Warning over rogue traders in Peterborough as one victim loses thousands of pounds

Police have issued a warning over rogue traders in Peterborough after a resident in Bretton was offered gardening work.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 5:00 am

Amanda Large, police, crime prevention officer in Peterborough, said there had been reports of rogue traders operating over the weekend, while a recent victim even lost thousands of pounds.

She said: “We are asking the public to be on the lookout for rogue traders operating in your area.

“On Saturday morning two young boys called at an address is Bretton asking the occupant if they wanted any gardening work undertaken. When asked who they were with, their dad appeared.

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Police are warning about rogue traders in Peterborough

“Although any work was declined the same male returned yesterday with another man both dressed in high-viz jackets. Thankfully they were sent away again, but we expect they will return and keep trying.

“What starts as a £20 job never ends like that. A recent victim in Peterborough has lost thousands to a rogue trader in what started as a small £200 quick job.

“Rogue trading ranges from poor quality work and high pressure sales to organised crime gangs targeting the elderly and vulnerable on a daily basis, often demanding large amounts of money.

“These traders do not just cold call at your door; they can have professional websites and place adverts in newspapers, magazines and other publications. They also operate leaflet dropping so be aware that not all leaflets are genuine.”

How rogue traders operate

. Cold call at the doorstep offering services such as gutter cleaning, gardening, house maintenance, jet washing, driveway, paving etc.

. Befriend the homeowner by various means (e.g. claim to have been before or claim they have worked on a neighbouring address). Many victims say: “He was such a nice man.”

. Start with small jobs such as cleaning the gutters for £20 and then claim further work is needed (which they will not quote for), then demand thousands of pounds, often for no or very little work.

. Make fraudulent claims e.g. claim moss on a roof causes damage and needs to be washed off, painting a roof is necessary to protect it or you have a tile missing and that will cause issues etc.

. Return again and again to vulnerable victims demanding further payment for bogus reasons (e.g. claiming that VAT has not been paid, claim to be Trading Standards officers and offer to refund the victim with a cheque once the victim has given them more cash).

. Use intimidation to extort money and often take the homeowner to a bank or cashpoint to withdraw cash.

Avoiding rogue traders – some tips to keep you safe

. Use your door chain when answering all calls. Be cautious; if a trader knocks at your door, do not agree to on the spot house repairs without taking advice. Say “no thank you” and close the door.

. If you do decide to engage with the caller then check their identity by asking to see an ID card and check the telephone number in your own directory. Never call the numbers provided by the caller as they may well be bogus

. Consider if you really need the work done - shop around for the best deal, where possible using a trader from the Trading Standards Buy with Confidence scheme; Safe Local Trades (www.safelocaltrades.com) or a trader recommended to you (get three quotes to make sure you are being quoted a fair price)

. Sign up to your utility service provider’s password scheme if they have one. The means that any legitimate employee must know and use the agreed password before they enter your home

. Insist that you are given the quote in writing

. Do not make snap decisions. If you feel that any work needs carrying out on your property take time to talk to family or neighbours before you make a decision

. Ask the caller to leave you with information to study at your leisure

. Don’t be tempted by ‘today only’ offers (this is pressure selling)

. Ask to see their public liability insurance

. Do not deal with anyone who refuses to take payment via cheque or bank transfer

. Get written receipts for any monies paid

. Remember that if you enter into a contract in your home for work costing £42 or more you have 14 days to cancel by writing to the trader (even if the work has started), unless you have asked the trader around specifically to carry out emergency repairs or maintenance. If you haven’t been given information on your right to cancel then you can cancel up to 54 weeks from the agreement date.

Doorstep cold-calling is not illegal, however, the police advice is to never employ traders who call at your door and certainly do not let them into your home.

Reporting a rogue trader

If you have had an experience with a rogue trader, report it by telephoning 101.

You can gain lots of great advice and support from your local crime reduction officer so ask to be put through to one via 101.

You may also wish to report it online

For live incidents where the rogue trader is still at the property, or is due to return, contact the police on 999. The police have a protocol for dealing with these incidents and welcome your contact.