Scam in Focus – Bogus trades people
This months Scam in focus and how to protect yourself.
A trade scam is where scammers are using legitimate sites in order to find victims.
When winter passes, our thoughts soon turn to all those spring maintenance jobs we couldn’t do in the colder months. So how do you find good tradespeople to do work on your home and protect yourself from rogue traders who overcharge for poor quality goods and services, or demand money upfront and then don’t show up to do the job?
- Recommendations from friends and family is a good starting point, but, with people moving around more often these days, it might not be possible to get a personal recommendation if you are new to an area. That’s why people are increasingly turning to the internet to find tradespeople and comparison and finder sites are springing up for this purpose. CAPASP recommends, however, sticking to the more well-established sites such as Safe Local Trades, https://www.safelocaltrades.com/ , Buy with Confidence https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ , Checkatrade https://www.checkatrade.com/ or TrustATrader https://www.trustatrader.com/ which have robust vetting and reviewing procedures in place and which are therefore highly unlikely to list any rogue traders.
- Stay within your comfort zone when interacting with potential tradespeople, if you feel that something isn’t right, trust your gut instincts and assume that it probably isn’t and break the contact. If a tradesperson then pesters you, it can be a further sign that they are not legitimate.
- Tradespeople are usually sole traders or a very small team who are unlikely to have a receptionist or secretary. They will be conducting their call-backs in the evenings and weekends when they have some time, so, if you are called back immediately, by a secretary or receptionist, or by the person himself, that could be a warning sign.
- Good tradespeople are inundated with work and have a waiting list, so another warning sign could be If you are told they can start the work immediatly. Everyone gets cancellations, even genuine tradespeople, but they will generally move up the jobs in order. It is rare therefore that a good tradesperson will be able to come in the next week so be prepared to wait several weeks, it will be worth it in the long run.
- Genuine tradespeople won’t ask for the invoice to be paid in full before the work commences. Now remembering that they are usually sole traders or small businesses, they may ask you to pay for the materials up front. If this is the case they won’t be offended if you tell them to give you a list of what they need and you order it and pay for it and get it delivered to your house.
More information about your consumer rights when dealing with tradespeople can be found here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/getting-home-improvements-done/cancelling-building-or-decorating-work/
If you wish to report a tradesperson to Trading Standards you can do so via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline 0808 223 1133 or using the online form here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/ . If you have been intimidated by a tradesperson and wish to report it to the Police, call 101 or use the online form here: https://www.cambs.police.uk/report/Report . In an emergency situation, always call 999.