People in Lichfield and Burntwood are being urged to be vigilant over rogue traders following reports of elderly people being targeted by doorstep callers.
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards service says it has received reports where homes have been approached and residents told they need work carried out on their property.
In a recent case, one person was initially told by a trader they needed a leaking chimney fixed for the sum of £400 – but the job soon escalated to the replacement of the entire roof at a cost of £18,000.
The resident stopped the worker after they had begun to immediately remove roof tiles and expose the wooden structure.
Cllr Victoria Wilson, cabinet member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council, said:
“This type of criminal activity that usually targets older more vulnerable residents is particularly cruel.
“Not only can it leave people quite shaken up but can also leave them seriously out of pocket.
“Our Trading Standards service have had a few reports recently of doorstep criminals and we’re reminding residents to be vigilant and to report any incidents.
“Reputable builders, roofers and gardeners do not usually cold call.
“People needing work done on their homes should always get three quotes for the work, never pay up front and should not pay by cash. And, if anyone is unsure about the caller, they should ask them to make an appointment to come back when a friend or family member can be with them.”Cllr Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council
People can get further advice by calling Consumer Direct on 0808 223 1133 or the county council’s Trading Standards team on 0300 111 8000.
Superintendent Tom Chisholm, head of neighbourhood policing at Staffordshire Police, said:
“Nobody should feel threatened or intimidated in their own home and anyone who is made to feel this way by the actions of someone claiming to be providing a service should contact the force.
“Previously there have been incidents where someone claiming to be a trader will knock on the resident’s door and tell them their property is in need of work – which is not normally the case.
“If the work goes ahead it is often of low quality and the injured party is overcharged.
“Victims tend to be older and feel pressured into agreeing to the work. There have been occasions where they have been escorted to a bank to withdraw money.
“Sometimes these rogue traders are associated with wider criminal gangs and it is important that people report their concerns.”Supt Tom Chisholm, Staffordshire Police