TRADING Standards is warning residents to be wary of rogue traders posing as bogus tree surgeons and builders throughout the borough.
Officers have received complaints about tree surgeons charging excessive amounts to do little or no work, making unnecessary home improvements/maintenance work or using cold calling as a cover for distraction burglary.
In most cases, rogue traders deliberately targeted old age pensioners and vulnerable adults living alone. They masquerade as council housing officers, police, TV Licence enforcement officers, National Trading Standards officers and HMRC.
In a recent complaint to Trading Standards, the victim told officers that a caller had claimed to be from Thurrock Council’s housing unit about cutting back a tree. The victim was initially quoted £300, but in further correspondence was told that due to new rules, disposal of the tree is charged by weight.
The victim transferred £10,460 to the bogus tree surgeon, who staggeringly came back and asked for another £6,900 to finish the job. Fortunately, this transaction was stopped. On investigation, Trading Standards officers found the bogus trader had used a false address and untraceable phone numbers.
Cllr Rob Gledhill, Leader of Thurrock Council, said: “Rogue traders can have a devastating effect on local people living in the borough, resulting in financial hardship, loss of confidence and, in some cases, failing health.
“Our advice to residents is to say no to all unsolicited doorstep calls, phone calls and not to respond to flyers put through their doors. Always ask to see identification and if in doubt, contact our Trading Standards team on 0845 070 0707.
“If you require reputable tradespeople, the best thing to do is use our Buy with Confidence scheme, which is available online and will put you in touch with traders who have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards.”
Visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk to find out more.
Residents can also register their phone number for free with the telephone preference service on 0845 070 0707 or online at www.tpsonline.org.uk to prevent unwanted phone calls. Free window stickers are available through Thurrock Trading Standards via Citizen Advice Consumer Services on 03454 040 506.