Thousands of people fall victim to rogue traders every year in the UK.
Consumers find themselves being conned out of money and being left with unfinished jobs and poor workmanship.
Rogue traders will often carry out inferior work and charge extremely high prices, and regularly leave properties in a worse off condition than they originally were.
They can place great pressure on old and vulnerable people, often forcing them to pay for work upfront.
Here are some top tips on how best to avoid these rogue traders:
Be sceptical of unknown suppliers and carry out a few simple searches using the name and address of the supplier to see whether other consumers have had bad experiences
Always buy branded goods from approved, authorised suppliers
Ask to see their paperwork–independently check a tradesman's credentials by asking to see proof of their qualifications and insurance
Request references- you have the right to request references
Always draw up a clear written contract for your home improvement project stating exactly what work needs to be completed
Get at least three quotes from different tradesmen. Comparing quotes allows you to get a general idea of what your project should cost and enables you to weed out any high-priced scams.
When buying products on the internet, stick with reputable or trusted suppliers that you have used previously or are recommended
Take pictures of work being carried out at regular periods and make sure you date them
Never agree to go with a trader to the bank to get money out. This is almost certainly a scam. You can report the builder to the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline or to the police.
Many local authorities run assured trader schemes. They aim to give consumers a reliable way of finding trustworthy local businesses.
Most schemes have been developed separately, and vary in the details of how they work.
All of the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme Network (LAATSN) member schemes have the common aims of:
giving consumers a reliable way of finding businesses they can trust
offering a source of help and advice if things go wrong, and
enabling local businesses to demonstrate that they have signed up to national standards.
If you have found yourself a victim to rogue trading then report the trader by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or visit the Citizens Advice Consumer website.
You can also report you experience to your local trading standards office.
You can find your nearest office by clicking here.