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Operation Rogue Trader encourages residents to say no to cold callers

Lancashire County Council has joined forces with the police, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and waste services across the North West to raise awareness of the dangers of doing business with rogue traders.  

During this recent day of action, Lancashire trading standards officers and other north west local authorities tackled rogue traders and raised awareness of the dangers linked to engaging with cold callers who knock on doors.

During the Trading Standards North West Rogue Trader Day, 427 vehicles were stopped and checked with 36 offences being identified between the police, DVSA, Waste Services and Trading Standards Services. 

A further 233 businesses received advice on how to avoid doing business with rogue traders. Other activities included interviews being carried out for ongoing investigations, presentations to vulnerable groups and community awareness raising events.

Officers in Lancashire carried out vehicle checks in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. They also visited traders working in Wyre focusing on areas where rogue traders have previously targeted vulnerable residents.

Sixty-nine visits were made to trader merchants across the county advising on the problems caused by rogue traders and sharing information on Lancashire Trading Standards Service's Safe Trader Scheme.  

Across Lancashire, over 50 vehicles were stopped and checked by police. DVSA partners found problems with 12 vehicles resulting in 8 prohibitions.

Thirty scam victims were visited and given advice and information about how to protect themselves from scams; 80 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 for work made in the home. While most were found to be compliant, businesses were unaware of statutory cancellation notices that are required to be given to consumers in a written format, requiring a 14-day cooling off period when agreeing, in their own home, for work to be carried out.

Lancashire Trading Standards also took this opportunity to reinforce previous messages to communities to use extreme caution when approached by cold callers offering to carry out house repairs or gardening work.

County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Most of us have unfortunately been ripped off at some point or other in our lives. It’s a horrible feeling.

“This is why it’s important to raise awareness of rogue traders, and how they operate. 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.

County Councillor Green 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.

“I would also advise people who are looking for a tradesperson to consult Lancashire’s Safe Trader Scheme. The scheme helps residents find reputable traders for property repairs, home improvements, gardening services, mobility aids and other services around the home.”

The message from trading standards is to say no to cold callers. You can use Lancashire's Safe Trader Scheme to find details of reputable traders who have committed to treating customers honestly and fairly. Alternatively, you can enquire about details of traders on the scheme, by phoning 0303 333 1111.

If you suspect someone of being a rogue trader or find yourself accosted by uninvited doorstep sellers, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.