St Helens Council has released some top-tips to home owners to prevent them falling victim to rogue traders.
The Trading Standards team at the town is giving out some advice as spring and summer is when many residents begin thinking about home improvement works.
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And lighter evenings can lead to unscrupulous traders trying to drum up work through door knocking and in some cases even posing as town hall employees to lull victims into a false sense of security.
The council has been made aware of a number of incidents concerning bogus and doorstep traders in recent months, with one Sutton resident being led to believe she was receiving building and tree maintenance work at her home from the council in exchange for cash.
While the council does provide all aspects of tree surgery work for a competitive fee, payment is always taken through a formal invoice system after the work has been completed, and money will never be requested.
Darrell Wilson, chief Trading Standards officer at St Helens Council, said: “Traders who just turn up at a property to seek work can be very persuasive but it’s important not to jump to any decisions which could leave you out of pocket – and to always look to seek credentials where possible.
“In a lot of cases we deal with, the victims – often elderly and vulnerable people who are unable to do the work themselves – have parted with a lot of cash for either a poor standard of work, or on many occasions have paid up front for work that is only partially completed or never even started.
"I would appeal to family members and neighbours to keep an eye on elderly loved ones or members of their community to ensure they aren’t getting roped into work they don’t necessarily want for an extortionate amount of money.”
Trading Standard’s four tips to ensure residents do not get ripped off by rogues are:
Never agree to have work undertaken there and then by people who just happen to knock on your door.
Get at least three quotations from traders before making a decision
Consider recommendations from family and friends
Visit the council’s online trade register where you can find reputable local tradesmen and businesses
Anyone who thinks they have been misled or paid over the odds for work can contact the Citizens' Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk
If you suspect a rogue trader is operating in your area, please contact Trading Standards with as information as possible, including car registration numbers and physical descriptions, by calling 01744 676338, or via firstname.lastname@example.org