Watch out for rogue traders warns Trading Standards

Trading Standards

30 May 2023

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North Northamptonshire Council’s Trading Standards team are reminding residents to be aware and to follow steps to protect themselves from rogue traders.

The reminder follows Operation Rogue Trader week, which is a regional week of action and took place earlier in May. Alongside the Trading Standards team’s day-to-day work, they worked alongside partners including Northants Police, DVSA, HMRC and colleagues from NNC’s Waste team providing advice to local businesses. 

Rogue traders will often cold call properties uninvited and offer to carry out work in the hope of pressuring the resident into making a quick decision, and often charge excessive amounts for poor quality work or goods that were not needed in the first place. Some burglars also use cold calling at properties to distract the resident, allowing time for their partner to sneak in and steal. 

You can spot the signs of rogue trading by looking out for:

  • Unrecognised vans parked nearby, particularly ones that don’t include a company name or contact details.
  • Building or maintenance work on your neighbour’s garden or house starting unexpectedly.
  • Poor quality work visible on the roof, driveway, or property.
  • Your neighbour appearing anxious or distressed. 
  • Your neighbour visiting the bank, building society, or post office more frequently, particularly if they are accompanied by a trader.

By following these steps, you can protect yourself, neighbours and family: 

  • Cold calling itself is not illegal. However, if you have a no cold calling sticker displayed, a trader may be breaking the law by ignoring this.
  • Always have your front and back doors locked and use a spyhole, door chain or doorbell camera to see who is at the door. 
  • You do not have to let anyone into you home. If you decide to let someone in, always ask for ID and confirm it with the organisation they claim to be working for by getting the number from your local directory or the internet. Do not use the number on the caller’s ID or business card. A genuine caller will be happy to wait while you do this.
  • Be aware of high-pressure sales tactics such as special offers that are only on for one day. Take your time to decide and don’t be afraid to ask for time to think about the offer. 
  • If someone claims they are part of a Trade Association or an approved body, ensure they have evidence and don’t be frightened to confirm if they are.
  • Do not accept an offer from the caller to drive you to the bank or cash point. 
  • Always get at least 3 quotes for work to allow you make an informed decision and never pay for work before it is completed. For larger jobs, ask if a payment plan can be arranged so payments can be made in stages. 
  • Always agree a final price in writing and get an invoice and receipt as proof of payment – anyone carrying out work or selling you goods or services at your home that cost more than £42 must provide you with written information relating to the contract and your cancellation rights. 

If you are looking to have work done in your home or garden and don’t know who to get to do it, consider using a member of an approved trader scheme, such as Buy with Confidence.  

Buy with Confidence is an excellent resource that we advise residents use, especially at a time when household budgets are tight. It is essential that residents don’t part with money for poor quality or unnecessary goods or services. By taking some simple steps and acting with caution when answering their door, residents can protect themselves.Cllr David Brackenbury, the council’s Executive Member for Growth and Regeneration (which covers Trading Standards)
Trading Standards are aware that these rogue traders often prey on the most vulnerable in our communities but unfortunately victims of rogue traders rarely report what has happened to them. You can report any suspicious traders to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council