Lancashire residents are urged to beware of rogue traders in the wake of the storms this week.
With Storm Ciara hitting the county earlier this week, and Storm Dennis on its way this weekend, thousands of people will need repairs to their homes.
Unfortunately, bad weather and high winds are often followed by bogus traders cold-calling householders with offers to repair roofs, fences, guttering and remove trees damaged by gusts.
They will prey on vulnerable householders’ concerns about the condition of their property and often undertake work that is unnecessary, unsafe and overpriced.
Trading Standards advice is to always say no to cold callers. People are urged to use the county council’s Safe Trader Scheme to find reputable traders to complete repair work.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste, said: “It’s highly likely that rogue traders will be out and about following the storms this week.
“They’ll try every trick in the book and can charge a fortune for work that simply isn’t needed. They are most likely to cold call and target elderly and vulnerable people. Once you start speaking to them, they will often point out a fairly minor repair job.
“When you let them into your property, this will escalate into an expensive list of jobs that just aren’t needed.
“If you think work needs to be done because of storm damage, check with your insurance company first.
“If you need a trader, use our Safe Trader scheme, get quotes from two or three local businesses or ask friends and relatives to recommend a reputable business.
“We’d always advise you say no to cold callers and report anyone who is using pushy or aggressive sales tactics to us via the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline.”
To find a trader on Lancashire County Council’s Safe Trader scheme call 0303 333 11 11 or visit www.safetrader.org.uk
Anyone concerned about bogus property repairers can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 for further advice.
**TRADING STANDARDS STORM DAMAGE TIPS**
Trading Standards is offering the following advice to householders who believe that they have had damage caused to their property as a result of the bad weather:
• Never do business with an unknown trader who cold calls at your house.
• Always make an initial check with your insurance company to see if they have a procedure for dealing with storm damage. This may include only using authorised traders to carry out the repairs.
• Where immediate repairs are necessary, use well established businesses who have fixed premises and landline numbers (not mobile phones).
• Go by personal recommendation wherever possible.
• Use traders who are members of the Safe Trader Scheme.
• Get quotes from several different traders for the cost of the work.
• Ensure that you obtain clear quotes before work is carried out and receipts afterwards for all work carried out.
• Pay by cheque or credit card and do not give cash sums in advance to unknown traders.