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Doorstep rogue trader warning

Published on:

18 July 2017

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Enfield Council is urging residents not to sign up for home improvements on the doorstep to ensure they are not scammed and conned out of thousands of pounds for unnecessary building work.

- Enfield Council is warning residents not to agree to costly home improvements on the doorstep
- Work is often unnecessary and expensive
- Vulnerable and older residents are most at risk

Enfield Council is urging residents not to sign up for home improvements on the doorstep to ensure they are not scammed and conned out of thousands of pounds for unnecessary building work.

Residents are being warned to beware of workmen who turn up offering to do home improvement repairs, lay new driveways or provide gardening services.

The repairs are often completely unnecessary and/or can result in people being overcharged by thousands of pounds compared to the true cost of works. 
In some cases residents have been escorted to the bank by the rogue builders to withdraw large sums of money in cash to pay for the works.  
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, said: “These conmen generally target the older and more vulnerable members of society, and though we will not hesitate to prosecute any known rogue sellers and seek to recoup any money victims have lost, it is, of course, preferable if residents avoid getting ensnared in the first place.

"We therefore strongly advise residents not to sign up for any building works on the doorstep, however tempting the offer may be. Remember a moment's hesitation can lead to a lifetime of regret."

How do uninvited doorstep sellers operate?
- Usually they “cold call” i.e. knock at your door without invitation;

- If their vehicle has a UK registration they may park it out of sight;

- They persuade the resident to have work done that is not necessary – typically, to the roof, driveways, gutters and fascias or general garden work;

- Often they will say they are only working in the area for a short time so are offering you a special or discounted price, and then pressurise you for the works to start straight away;

- Once work starts, they may say they want more money and provide you with poor reasons;

- They may ask you to make payment by bank transfer. be particularly suspicious if this is to an account, not in the trader's name. Remember, if in doubt, DO NOT PAY OUT;

- They will not offer you a “cooling off” period, which you are legally entitled to; and

- They will not give you written notice detailing your right to cancel the contract.

Enfield Council offers the following advice to residents:
- Don’t rush to part with your money. Wait 14 days to cool off and think about it, get other quotes and opinions.

Most repair and maintenance can wait 14 days before you agree to contract. Do not be pressurised by false claims such as ‘your roof is rotten and can fall down’ or ‘you can be prosecuted if someone is hurt’ by an issue at your property.

These are just tricks these con artists use to prey on your fears. Never pay cash, only pay directly (cheque, credit/debit card, bank transfer) in the name of the person your contract is with.

- If you are approached by any person offering to carry out repairs to your property, and you feel unable to say no, tell them you are not the home owner. If you not sure who is at your door, don’t open the door.

- You can carry out checks of any trader you are thinking of employing to do work at your property.

Visit the trader at their business or home address to confirm who they are, and/or ask for photo i.d and a recent utility bill and keep a copy. Ask for their public liability insurance, and what permissions and qualifications are required for the work to be carried out.

Check online or with a surveyor. If you feel you may have a rogue trader at your property, without putting yourself at harm take a picture of the vehicle registration number and trader.

-You should always use a reputable trader and get three quotes for the work.

- If you feel threatened ring 999 or if you are suspicious call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 who will refer the matter to Enfield Trading Standards who will then contact you.

- Visit Which? Trusted Trader website for a list of contractors who have signed up to trading responsibly.