Hertfordshire Constabulary is asking people to be on their guard against rogue traders after an increase in reports regarding this kind of activity taking place since the beginning of October.
A Rogue Trader is someone who cold calls at a resident’s door, often the elderly, and offers to do work on their home or garden which is either unnecessary or vastly over-priced. Offenders can damage property deliberately in order to obtain money, leave work unfinished and use intimidating behaviour in order to extort money.
Work men have been cold calling at addresses in towns around the county and offences more than doubled in October, compared with the same period last year (up 11 offences from 10 in October 2022). One victim in their 90s from Bishop’s Stortford lost more than £40,000, after some roofing work was done. A 22-year-old man and a 24-year-old man have since been arrested on suspicion of fraud.
The force Fraud Triage Manager said: “Elderly and vulnerable people in the area have been targeted by unscrupulous ‘traders’ who have conned them out of hundreds of pounds after carrying out work on their houses which wasn’t needed.
“The rogue traders are cold calling at addresses stating that they have seen a problem with the roof, driveway or other parts of the property and then offering to fix the problem. These people are very convincing and can seem legitimate, which is why people get caught out. But they will demand cash up front, won’t use any paperwork, and often create new ‘problems’ which need fixing to get more money from their victims.
“They may tell you that work needs to be done to your property, however never agree to any work or part with any cash straight away. If you are in doubt, take their information and contact Hertfordshire Trading Standards to check their legitimacy - they have a list of accredited workmen. If work does need to be done, then obtain quotes from a number of companies before parting with any cash. These quotes should be provided in a written form with a notice explaining your right to cancel.
"If a stranger calls and you are not expecting anyone and you don’t recognise them, don’t open the door. If you witness behaviour which you believe is suspicious, call 999 straight away, with as much information as you can – descriptions of workmen and vehicles will help.
“If you live near to any vulnerable or elderly residents, please look out for them and contact police immediately if you think they may be being targeted.”
More advice on dealing with unexpected:
‘Not Sure? Don’t Open the Door!
Don’t let unknown callers into your home.
Find a way to communicate through the door, without opening it, or look through a spy hole.
If you think a rogue trader is at the door call the police on 999
If you have arranged an appointment with someone, check their ID first before you let them in.
Never consider having work done on your house or garden by anyone who knocks on your door.
If the services offered cost over £42, the trader must advise you that you have 14 days to cancel the contract and must not start work until after this period, unless you sign a notice agreeing to waive this right.