Please beware – we have received several reports of rogue traders operating in the Woking area who appear to be targetting the more elderly and vulnerable members of the community.
So what are rogue traders or doorstep scams?
You’re at home one day when you hear a knock at the door.
A supposed tradesperson, often a roofer, driveway builder or gardener, is standing there. They say they’re working in your area and/or for one of your neighbours down the road. They’ve noticed some urgent work that needs to be done on your home and they’ve kindly come round to offer their services.
Or perhaps there’s a small job they wouldn’t mind patching up for you for a surprisingly low cash-in-hand price.
You don't want to let this opportunity pass or you’re worried about the damage to your property if you let this issue continue. So, you agree to their price given the urgency of the situation.
The scammer may trick you into paying in full upfront before they’ve even started work. They may find ‘additional problems’ after starting work, which needs extra cash immediately. Or they may get you to pay some, or all, of the quote, but then never return to finish the job or make good any issues.
Warning signs of a rogue trader
• They refuse to give you a written quote - without a paper trail or written quote, it’s hard for you to look into their company, compare prices or contact them if things start to go wrong. Always get itemised quotes from several providers that show exactly what you’re paying for. Always ask about the warranty or guarantee that will cover the work and for proof that the tradesperson has valid insurance and permits for the work. By insisting on getting multiple quotes you will lessen the chance that you will be overcharged for what may otherwise be a much lower value piece of work.
• They pressure you into an urgent decision - you shouldn’t feel rushed into having work done on your home by someone on your doorstep. Calmly explain that you cannot commit or pay now and want to get other quotes. If you feel you are being pressured or are unsure of the people in front of you then simply tell them to leave. A reputable trader will understand.
• They say they’re doing some work locally - but you can’t go round and see their work - with home improvements, it can be useful to see a tradesperson’s previous work and speak to their past customers. What were they like to work with? Were they respectful of the property? Was the quote accurate? This won’t always be possible.
But if they’re doing work locally and happened to notice something on your home, it’s a warning sign if you cannot go to their other, local site.
• They tell you to go to your bank and take out cash while they set up - you should never pay upfront for work on your property. A small, nominal deposit following an exchange and acceptance of a written quote or other paperwork may be OK. But the full price should only be paid on completion once you are happy with the work. Always make any payments agreed using a cheque or a bank transfer as this provides a trace as to where/whom the money has gone to. And when making a bank payment, remember, it's the trader who should be giving you their bank details, not the other way round.
• They do not arrive in a sign-written vehicle, wear branded clothing or have company business cards or flyers. However, please also be wary even if the supposed tradesperson has any of these things, as that is still no guarantee they are a genuine trader. It is easy to set up what looks like a genuine company with branding, a www site and flyers etc to give an illusion of respectability.
For further information and advice please see the Surrey Trading Standards site at; http://spkl.io/61834aeGl
and the Surrey Police Op Signature page at;
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