Hundreds of Leicestershire residents fell victim to rogue traders last year - how to stay safe

Hundreds in Leicestershire have been conned by rogue traders. Stock image. -Credit:Getty

Hundreds of Leicestershire residents have been scammed by rogue traders over the past 12 months. Those who fell foul of the scams lost almost £3 million between them.

One bogus ‘worker’ climbed onto a resident’s roof to carry out work, only to be seen by neighbours simply sitting up there and smoking. The person then charged the homeowner “a large sum of money for the privilege, without having carried out any work”, a spokesperson for Leicestershire County Council said.

Other cases reported to the council revealed a pattern of traders going into residents' lofts and then showing them a picture of gaps in the roof tiles to “scare consumers into believing they need roofs replacing”, the spokesperson added. However, the photo would not be of the householder's roof.

READ MORE: Leicestershire Police officer 'deliberately' accessed confidential information on force computers

The authority’s Trading Standards team revealed today that it had received 217 reports of scams between Friday, March 31, 2023, and Monday, April 1 2024. It has now issued a warning and advice to people to help them avoid falling into scammers' clutches.

The team said the most commonly reported cons were doorstep offers for roofing and chimney work or driveway repairs. Rogue traders “will knock on doors unannounced and claim they have noticed damage, before offering to have a look for free as they have just finished a job nearby and have all their equipment with them”, the council added.

Trading Standards is calling on residents to refuse any such approaches and to not “feel pressured into taking immediate action”. The approach might come with offers of “incentives or discounts”, but the suggested work could actually be unnecessary and, even if the quotes may be “low initially”, the rogue trader could “raise the price drastically once work has started”, the team added.

The team advises:

  • If a trader starts to get ‘pushy’ or residents feel pressurised, shut the door and telephone the police on 101 or 999 if an emergency

  • Look out for neighbours – if they appear to be uncomfortable with traders, telephone the police to get them checked out

  • Obtain at least three independent quotes and never agree to anything on the doorstep

  • Always check out reviews, and carry out research on the trader before agreeing for works to be carried out

  • Pay by card or cheque rather than cash

  • Traders should always offer a 14-day cooling-off period

Councillor Deborah Taylor, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “Our Trading Standards team will act on complaints where there appears to be a pattern of unfair trading and fraud. Officers will undertake investigations where there is substantial loss to consumers. Let this be a warning to all cold callers offering home improvements who target vulnerable consumers, that Leicestershire Trading Standards will investigate such complaints as we have a duty to protect the public and legitimate businesses who are abiding by the law.”