Scams and rogue traders
Scams are fraudulent or dishonest get-rich-quick schemes. There are many different types of scams and new ones regularly appear trying to catch people out.
For more information on scams, you can visit:
- the Citizens Advice website and look for the section on ‘Scams’
- the Metropolitan Police website and see the Little Guides series of videos and publications
- the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team website
If you think you, or someone you know, may have been scammed you can report the scam to:
- the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline – telephone 0808 223 1133, or visit the website. You can also check if something might be a scam using the online scams helper
- Action Fraud – telephone 0300 123 2040
- ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) – telephone 0303 123 1113 to report scam texts and nuisance sales calls
- FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) – telephone 0800 111 6768 to report investment and pension scams
- the Stop Loan Sharks Team on 0300 555 2222, or visit the website to report a loan shark
Some scams to be aware of
For example, precious gems, carbon credits, solar panels, green energy, home insulation, land, wine, and property.
Always seek independent professional advice before signing up or agreeing to any type of investment scheme.
These may look authentic and appear to be from your bank, building society, government department (e.g. HMRC) or other business.
- do check for misspellings in the email and the email address
- do report suspicious emails to: email@example.com
- do not reply with any private information
- do not click on any website links in the message
- do not give any log-in details, passwords, or PIN numbers
For example, PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) Scams, where callers say they are from a claims handling company and compensation has been awarded.
Another example is a courier scam, where the caller claims to be from the bank and tries to trick you into giving your PIN number and your bank card to a ‘courier’. Banks never ask for PIN numbers or send couriers to collect bank cards. Neither do the Police.
Also, debt recovery scams, where court action is threatened if a fictitious bill or fine is not paid quickly.
- do not give your bank details
- do not make any payments to release funds, etc.
For example, receiving a text about an unauthorised payment from a bank, or a new device alert with a link to click on; or about an undelivered parcel, requesting payment for redelivery.
- do not reply giving personal information
- do not click on any links
- do report the message by forwarding it to 7726
For example, lottery and prize draw scams where a large cash prize is said to have been won and asking for a payment to release it. No genuine lottery or competition would ask you to do this.
Another example includes catalogue and brochure scams where a variety of products are offered such as vitamins, supplements, pills, food, beauty products, home aids, jewellery, clothing, garden products and general household items.
- do not reply and give your personal details
- do not send money to claim a prize
- do report scam mail to the Royal Mail - telephone 0800 011 3466, or write to Freepost Scam Mail, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- do report mail scams to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133
- do not keep cash in the house
- do check your bank statements regularly
How to avoid rogue traders
Keep up to date with what’s going on your Neighbourhoods by signing up to West Mercia Police’s Neighbourhoods Matter and receive regular email updates and alerts.
For more information and to join visit Neighbourhoods Matter.
Complaints about rogue traders may include some of the following
Door-to-door sellers, for example selling:
- household goods (these sellers are sometimes called ‘Nottingham Knockers’)
Home improvements such as:
- roof repairs
- driveways (tarmac, block paving, gravel, etc.)
- gardening/landscaping/tree surgery
- solar panels and renewable energy
- home security
The best advice is not to deal with anyone who visits your home uninvited. You should not feel bullied, threatened, or pressurised into buying anything or having any work carried out. Rogue traders and doorstep callers may do unnecessary work, or to a poor standard, or the price may rapidly increase.
- do not buy goods or services from doorstep traders
- do not open the door if you do not know the caller
- do not let a stranger into your home
- do display a warning card that you do not buy goods or services at the door
- do use a door chain on both the front and back door
- do check ID cards
- do make a note of any vehicle details (the registration number, any business name, etc.)
- do report suspicious callers to Trading Standards (the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline number is 0808 223 1133) or the Police on 101.
Be suspicious if you are told:
- the work is urgent, and you need to act quickly
- there are broken roof tiles, or a leaking gutter, etc. Take your time to get informed and seek the opinion of a reputable trader before making any decisions
Finding a reputable trader
In order to find a reputable trader, you could:
- ask family, friends, and neighbours for recommendations
- ask the trader for a detailed written quote, which should include the trader’s name, address, and contact details. Do not accept a verbal quote
- get three quotes to compare and do not just be tempted by a low price, or offer to do the work straightway
- get a written contract specifying the terms
- ask for references and contact them
- check relevant Trade Associations for members
Before using websites where you provide personal information and details of the work that you want, ask and find out:
What checks are carried out by the website or approved scheme operator?
- are they just advertising businesses, or have the traders been vetted and approved?
What happens if you have a complaint about a trader on their website?
- do they investigate complaints and help customers?
- what sanctions do they have?
When carrying out home improvements it is also advisable to be aware of your responsibilities too. For example, some works may require a building regulations compliance certificate.
Worcestershire Trading Standards Service is not currently partnered with any Approved Trader Schemes, but this is something we are currently exploring and will update this part of the website soon.
Find out more about how to find a reputable trader to do your home improvement project.
Useful advice for spotting scams or fraud
For the latest update on scams please visit: Action Fraud
Help in dealing with scams
Age UK advice
Age UK Report fraud - Have you been the victim of fraud? Report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre.
Age UK - Pension scams - If you're considering claiming your full pension early, it's important to ensure you don't expose your savings to scammers.
Age UK - Staying safe online - Criminals send thousands of emails to people in the hope they'll disclose private information. Learn how to spot them.
Age UK - Safe on your doorstep - Someone may come to your door with the aim of scamming you out of your money. We'll help you spot a bogus trader and other fraudsters.
Age UK - Investment scams - An estimated £1.2bn is lost to investment fraud each year. Find out how to spot a scam and use the FCA Warning List to check an opportunity.
Age UK - Phone scams and cold calls - Nuisance calls can be annoying, frustrating and quite frightening. But there are some simple things that you can do to protect yourself.
Age UK - Postal scams - Sometimes it's difficult to spot the difference between scam mail and offers from legitimate companies. Watch out for these common signs.
Age UK - Support for scam victims - Support is available for the 3 million people who are victims of scams each year.
Join the fight against scams
Friends Against Scams
Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards training programme.
By attending a Friends Against Scams awareness session or completing the online learning, you can learn about the different types of scams and how to spot and support a victim.
Anyone can be a Friend Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.
Read more about the scheme on the Friends Against Scams website.
Or watch the Friends Against Scams Awareness Video
How can I become a Friend Against Scams?
To become a Friend Against Scams you will need to complete a short training session.
You can do the session online on the Friends Against Scams website. It takes about an hour and has loads of great scams awareness advice, information on how scams target people as well as how you can spot possible victims of scams in your community.
Once you’ve done the session, you can download your certificate to show you are a Friend Against Scams.
If you’re interested in taking things further find out how you could become a SCAMchampion.