Council advises vigilance against rogue traders active in Southwark

11 September 2018

As part of London Trading Standards Week (10-14 Sept), Southwark Council is asking families and communities to pull together and say no to rogue traders.

Rogue traders are typically fraudulent individuals who show up uninvited and offer to do work on people’s home. Once inside they may invent a non-existent problem that needs urgent attention, these commonly escalate into more serious works, for grossly inflated prices.

The council knows rogue traders are active in the area because six incidents have been reported in the last four months; these sadly resulted in a loss of more than £54,000 for the vulnerable individuals involved and there will have been many more unreported cases.

London wide, people have been prevented from being ripped off by more than £2 million over the last 12 months, thanks to local trading standards teams tackling rogue traders.

Recently, the council learned about a woman who had been cold called by someone who implied that a drain cover on her property was about to overflow, affecting her neighbour and the local community centre, in addition to herself. He said it was her responsibility and talked her through transferring funds. Fortunately the woman suspected a scam, she reported the matter to the police and no money was lost.

Sometimes leaflets will be delivered in advance and no cancellation rights are ever provided, which is an offence in itself. Often the ‘work’ rogue traders complete amounts to criminal damage, as well as fraud. Incidents involving elderly people being escorted to their bank to withdraw tens of thousands of pounds aren't unusual, although there is a banking protocol designed to prevent such withdrawals.

It important that nobody gives money over the phone or at the door, or makes decisions about buying goods or services on the doorstep. It is wise to shop around and compare prices and people can often find reputable traders through friends and family and by using our Builders Award and Handyperson schemes, these and lots of other advice and information can be found here: www.southwark.gov.uk/roguetraders

Cllr Victoria Mills, Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Brexit, said: ““We are using London Trading Standards Week to raise awareness of these often hidden crimes. Despicable fraudsters do untold damage to their victims, beyond even the financial losses that they suffer.

“I urge people to protect their families, friends and neighbours from these criminals and encourage people to talk about their experiences, so that together we can fight against rogue traders.”

Rob Vale, Chair of LTS’ Doorstep Crime Group said: “Trading standards officers in London are working very hard to protect our most vulnerable residents in what are increasingly difficult times for local authorities. This type of work relies on dedicated, passionate officers who are motivated to safeguard their local residents. However, doorstep crime is known to be grossly under reported and we can only do something about it if we know about it”.

If you suspect either you or someone you know is being targeted, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on: 03454 040506.
 

Page last updated: 11 September 2018