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Watch out, there are rogue traders about

Residents are being warned not to fall victim to rogue traders following a spate of incidents in the last few weeks.

With winter fast approaching and poorer weather with us, Wiltshire Council is warning residents not to engage with cold callers offering to do home maintenance work.

Wet weather, fallen leaves and high winds can be an excuse for cold callers to knock on doors offering to clean or repair gutters or roofs, repair or replace damaged driveways or take down trees. The council’s trading standards team advises strongly against people engaging with any person who calls without appointment.

Obvious signs of potential rogue traders are:

• Appear not to be local (due to accents or no genuine local address provided)

• Only a mobile phone number given – no land line

• No written quotation provided and no details of the right to cancel provided

• Vague about the cost or what work will be done

• Cost appears cheap for the work offered –this will often be a bait as costs will rise

The advice is that:

• Elderly residents should not answer the door to unexpected callers

• People should not be tricked into stepping outside their home by any unexpected caller

• People should call 999 if they feel intimidated by a caller or a caller will not leave when they are asked to.

If people need work doing to their home they should approach local reputable businesses for quotes and get three to compare costs. People should also use local schemes to find a reputable trader.

Wiltshire Council corporate director, Maggie Rae said, “We are fast approaching the season of goodwill but unfortunately not everyone abides by that sentiment.  We don’t want anyone to fall victim to a rogue trader which will leave them out of pocket and miserable at this time of year.

“I ask that if people have any doubts or suspicions about particular traders they should not take up their services but find a reputable company instead.”

Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public protection, Keith Humphries said, “The vast majority of Wiltshire traders are honest hardworking people. Unfortunately there are some out there looking to take advantage and scam people.

“We want people to be as vigilant as possible to this type of crime and look out for any vulnerable or elderly friends and relatives who might be particularly at risk.”

There is plenty of support available for people including: AgeUK Devises Trader Scheme, www. ageuk.org.uk/wiltshire/what_we_do/traders-list/ and  Trading standards Buy with Confidence Scheme, www. buywithconfidence.gov.uk/

All the traders registered with these schemes have been checked out by trading standards. For further advice people should call the consumer helpline on 03454 040506.