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Rogue Traders cash in on victims as the cost-of-living crisis continues

Posted 31/10/22

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is issuing a warning following a rise in complaints about doorstep callers knocking on doors out of the blue and telling homeowners they may be eligible for free insulation under the Government funding scheme. The rogues then use pressure selling techniques and persuasive jargon about the energy crisis to make the householders agree to remedy works being completed and to pay upfront, with reassurances they can claim the costs back from the Government.
One such example of these high-pressure selling techniques is offering a ‘free health check’ of the householder’s roof, which results in false claims about poor insulation and issues with damp and mould, sometimes spray foam is then offered as a solution to resolve the issues, even if this is not necessary. There have been problems with people selling their houses or applying for mortgages if this is not done right.
CTSI Lead Officer for Scams and Doorstep Crime, Katherine Hart. said: “Times are tough for people right now, and every penny is needed for some households to just keep their heads above the water. These rogue doorstep callers are praying on the most vulnerable in our communities and promising them all sorts of lies to help with the cost of living. However, these criminals will prey on anyone, any age, and any background.
“We know that reputable traders may have a backlog at the moment and this makes us want to cut corners, but we have to be patient and don’t fall foul for a scam that may cost dearly in the future.
“Trading Standards are doing all they can to stamp out these unscrupulous traders, but consumer education is key. Warn your grandparents, your parents, and your neighbours to never engage with anyone that turns up unannounced at the door.”
Top tips:
• Never agree to anything on the doorstep – take time to think
• Look at reviews but do not rely on them – they can be faked
• Make sure you get all the paperwork and keep it safe
• Use a trader from an Approved Trader Scheme
• Always pay for services using methods such as; credit card, debit card, Apple Pay and PayPal as this gives added protection
• Further advice on how to save money on your energy bills can be found at Home Energy Scotland and the Energy Saving Trust
John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI, said: "There has been a 28% increase in doorstep crime in the past year. Many criminals are using the cost-of-living crisis to exploit consumers at a time when they are making tough decisions about whether to heat their homes or feed their families. 
“Trading Standards continue the fight to stamp out these criminals by working in partnership with other agencies, but this has become increasingly difficult as gaps in consumer protection are emerging. Although Trading Standards is doing its utmost to protect the public, we remain concerned about the increased levels of risk and the potential for this to deteriorate is leaving the most vulnerable unprotected.
“We remind the public how important it is to report these crimes as Trading Standards action is intelligence lead, so the resources will be focused on where the detriment is at its highest and consumers are most at risk. If you live in England and Wales you can report to The Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133, Scotland should call 0808 800 9060 and Northern Ireland residents can report to 0300 123 6262. Help us to rid our streets of these con artists cashing in on our most vulnerable”
Chief Executive at HEIS Consumer Code, Faisal Hussain, said: “In these difficult and challenging times where we are experiencing an increase in energy bills, it is even more important to ensure that you are vigilant for any scams or too good to be true offers. Please do your research and never make a snap decision. Look at gaining two to three quotes from installers who are accredited and monitored to help ensure you are protected.” 
For consumer advice, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
In addition, to report scams, contact Action Fraud, in Scotland, or contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 800 9060, or if in Northern Ireland, call Consumerline on 0300 123 6262. 
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) 
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a national not for profit established in 1881 which supports the UK’s trading standards profession and works to protect consumers and safeguard honest businesses.  CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services at local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk 
Please contact CTSI Press Office: pressoffice@tsi.org.uk for any queries. 
HIES is a Chartered Trading Standards Institute Consumer Code within the home energy efficiency sector. Its vision is all about transforming consumer protection and with new technologies appearing every year they adapt and evolve their consumer protection mechanisms. Visit www.hiesscheme.org.uk for more information.
The Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) is facilitated self-regulation. It aims to promote consumer interests by setting out the principles of effective customer service and protection. It goes above and beyond consumer law obligations and sets a higher standard, showing consumers clearly - through the right to display the CCAS logo - that code members can be trusted. Find more information about our CCAS scheme on the CTSI website.


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