Police and Trading standards officers have teamed up to remind people how to avoid unscrupulous tradespeople.
At the weekend they visited Kingsway Park mobile home site in Warmley to give advice to residents at their annual general meeting. Three elderly people who live there were recently conned out of around £6,000 in cash.
They were charged an extortionate amount by rogue traders for painting their properties. Site manager Alan Packwood said one of the residents had even been driven to a cashpoint by the conmen to withdraw money.
A resident who also handed over money in advance for work to her windows had a change of heart and asked for it back but they refused.
Today Mr Packwood has been delivering information packs on dealing with unwanted visitors to residents of all 74 properties. A No Cold Calling sign has also gone up at the entrance to the park in Tower Lane and residents are also putting stickers with the message on their windows.
Inspector Lee Moore said there had been reports of flyers being delivered in South Glos promoting home maintenance and gardening services.
“While many legitimate firms use leaflets to promote their business, we know that it’s also a favourite tactic for so-called rogue traders – people who persuade householders to have work done unnecessarily, to a poor standard or who overcharge – and we want to remind people how they can steer clear of unscrupulous traders,” he said.
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: “Our advice is not to deal with cold callers on your doorstep. You do not know who they are, or what their history is. If you are unsure, shut the door. Rogue trading is linked with distraction burglaries and rogue traders are known to have criminal convictions for fraud, violence and Trading Standards offences.
“If you believe you may have been the victim of a rogue trader recently, or suspect a friend, neighbour or family member may have, please report this to South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the police.”
Leaflets for genuine businesses will usually include the trader’s full name and address and a landline phone number which can be checked against the phone book or other directory. Be suspicious of any business leaflet which only contains a mobile number, with no other contact details.
The advice from Trading Standards is to get three quotes for work, do not pay for work or materials in advance and don’t hand over a cash deposit. Don’t agree to a trader starting any work straight away.
If you’re are suspicious of a trader’s leaflets contact the Citizens’ Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or Trading Standards on 01454 868001.
If you are concerned about anyone calling door-to-door in your area – especially if they are visiting elderly or vulnerable people – call the police on 101, or 999 if it’s an emergency.
* There was an incident in Bitton last week in which an elderly resident almost fell victim to a scam when a man claiming to be from the water board tried to gain access to her property. A relative who was in the property challenged the young man who said he would go back to his van to get his paperwork but he didn’t return.