North Yorkshire County Council Trade Standards Officers are urging homeowners to always turn down offers of work and merchandise from cold calls, which may include roofers and other merchants who knock on the door uninvited.
Claire Derek Bastiman, North Yorkshire Executive for Trading Standards, said: “Experience tells us that fraudulent traders will try to capitalize after storms.
“Don’t panic if someone knocks on your door and says that shingles have come off your roof or that tree branches are hanging over the path and should be cut immediately. Close the door in front of a cold caller.
“Our Trade Standards Service is committed to protecting our communities from those who try to defraud them. We have a history of suing cold callers that target the vulnerable and the elderly, as well as people they think will pay for poor quality work.
“To anyone who thinks of violating in this way, we have a strong message: You will be held accountable.”
Storm damage tips from Trading Standards:
• Don’t settle for having work done by someone who rings or knocks on your door.
• Ask friends and family for referrals if you need a salesperson. Check reviews online, but be aware that some traders post fake reviews.
• There is a government approved scheme called Sign of trust who can help you find a merchant.
• Try to get at least three job offers so you can compare jobs and prices.
• Make sure you know the merchant’s name and address. If something goes wrong, it’s usually easier to negotiate a repair or refund with your local retailer, so find out who you’re dealing with and where to contact them.
• If the damage is weather related, talk to your insurance company before agreeing to work. The company most likely has a list of approved traders and may well want to have them make any necessary repairs.
Clerk Bastiman added: “In the past, officers have found instances where the tactic used has included wearing loose shingles to convince homeowners that their roof is damaged.
“If someone knocks on your door and says your house needs repairs or maintenance of any kind, be suspicious. Close the door on anyone who approaches you in this way.”
Residents can report fraudulent merchants or seek advice from the Citizens Advice Service on 0808 223 1133.