A day of concerted action to stamp out rogue traders in North West England has seen Trading Standards Officers join forces with the police and other organisations to carry out enforcement, raise awareness and offer advice.
Trading Standards North West Rogue Trader Day (21 September) included the dissemination of advice to 233 businesses in Lancashire on how to avoid being targeted by fraudsters, alongside presentations to vulnerable groups.
Interviews relating to ongoing rogue trader investigations were carried out, while Officers from Lancashire County Council Trading Standards visited 69 trader merchants across the county to advise about problems caused by rogue traders and hand out information about the service’s Safe Trader Scheme.
Officers paid visits to 30 scam victims, who were given advice and information about how to protect themselves from crooks in the future, while 80 local Post Offices were provided with advice on money scams.
A total of 32 businesses were approached and advised about general selling practices and the law in relation to contracts and cancellation rights for work made in the home, while residents were reminded to exercise caution when approached by cold callers offering to carry out house repairs or gardening work.
In Cumbria, Officers from Cumbria County Council Trading Standards participated in multi-agency road stop checks in Barrow, Carlisle, Penrith and Workington, and conducted mobile patrols in areas where rogue traders have previously targeted vulnerable residents, talking to local businesses, carrying out checks on vehicles and confirming that any accreditation claims were genuine.
Residents in Penrith attended a community engagement event organised by Cumbria Police and Trading Standards, and guidance was provided on how to avoid door step callers and scams.
County Councillor Michael Green, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Often, rogue traders will call, uninvited, offering to do the garden or some totally unnecessary repair, charging an exorbitant amount of money. They can be very persuasive, but people should never do business on their doorsteps.
“Rogue traders, doorstep fraudsters and scammers prey on the most vulnerable in society. Working closely with the police and other agencies means that Trading Standards officers, along with colleagues from other partner agencies such as the police, can intervene sooner and safeguard potential victims.
He added: “Genuine traders don’t do business on the doorstep. My strong advice to residents who open their door to someone offering to do some work on their house or in the garden, is to politely say no thank you.”
Sgt Jonathan Kelly from Cumbria Police Economic Crime Unit said: “Operation Rogue Trader is a great opportunity for us to tackle and raise awareness of the issue of illegitimate traders.
“In Cumbria there have been numerous examples of cold calling criminals looking to exploit vulnerable and elderly home owners.
“We will continue to carry out operations like this and remind the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or concerns about an individual offering to carry out work to the relevant agency.”