Traders who call at your door offering home improvements may not be genuine and may try to rip you off.

This is the warning to consumers from the Derby City Council Trading Standards team.

The team is urging home owners and residents to be on the lookout for rogue traders and take some simple steps to help protect themselves and their neighbours, particularly the vulnerable and elderly.

The biggest areas of complaint are about roofing work, closely followed by tarmacking, driveways and paving. Other areas of concern include wall coating (insulating/thermal paint), glazing and gardening work. In the last few weeks the team has posted several Facebook alerts about tradesmen calling and offering to clean guttering and roofs in the Mackworth and Mickleover areas of the city.

Each year over the summer months, Trading Standards sees a steady increase in the number of complaints about rogue traders calling at consumers’ homes.

Although the number of incidents of doorstep crime is lower this year than last, Trading Standards is keen to raise awareness of the issues and work with communities to help people spot the signs and get involved to stop rogue traders in their tracks.

As well as publicising incidents to help consumers recognise and avoid being scammed, the team investigates complaints and, for vulnerable consumers, provides advice and assistance.  Last year in Derby, approximately £14,000 was saved for victims of doorstep crime as a result of interventions by Trading Standards, Derbyshire Police, family and neighbours.

However, the team believes more can be done – locally the total loss to victims in the last year is estimated to be more than £270,000.   Doug Walkman, acting Head of Service for Trading Standards, Bereavement Services and Building Consultancy said:

“Cold calling and doorstep crime is a real issue in the City.  This sort of crime has a devastating effect on the victims and their families.  We urge everyone to be vigilant in spotting rogues and report anything suspicious to Trading Standards and the Police.  We recognise that doorstep crime is under-reported, and the Trading Standards team are asking residents to report any incidents and look out for their elderly or vulnerable neighbours. Together we can stop the rogues”.

The signs of rogue traders include:

  • Traders have been cold calling in the area
  • A builder’s van is parked nearby, particularly one that doesn’t include a company name or contact details
  • Building or maintenance work on your neighbour’s garden or house starts unexpectedly
  • Poor quality work is visible on the roof, driveway, or property
  • Your neighbour appears anxious or distressed
  • Your neighbour visits the bank, building society, or post office more frequently, particularly if they are accompanied by a trader

Simple steps that residents can take include:

  • Ask your neighbour in private – in person or on the phone – if things are OK
  • If they are unhappy, suggest calling a relative or carer on their behalf
  • Take a note of any vehicle registration numbers
  • Keep hold of any flyers you have received through your door
  • Ask if the trader has left any paperwork and put it in a clean plastic bag
  • If you suspect a crime, call the Police or Trading Standards (via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 ) or your local trading standards office
  • If the situation with the trader becomes volatile, dial 999 and call the Police

Visit the Citizens Advice Consumer website for more information.

Consumers looking to have work done can find a reputable trader via the Buy With Confidence approved trader scheme which is supported by Derby City Council or Derbyshire County Council’s Trusted Trader scheme .

To stay up to date with News from the Derby City Council Trading Standards team, including local rogue trader alerts on Facebook by liking their page.