A RECENT conviction for fraud and consumer protection offences by Worcestershire County Council via its Trading Standards Service has once again highlighted the problems caused by rogue traders in the County.

The press coverage that followed Barrie Birch and his company BBS Improvements Ltd conviction generated a number of enquiries to Trading Standards from consumers who feel they may also have fallen victim to a similar fraudulent traders.

The Trading Standards team is warning consumers to be on their guard for tradesman who are contracted to complete relatively minor work, such as repairing broken guttering or replacing damaged roof tiles, yet make fraudulent statements suggesting that additional and expensive work is needed.

The tradesmen will often try and worry consumers into believing that if they do not have the work there and then, there is likely to be some sort of disastrous event with their roof.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities said:“It is important that local people are careful when faced with someone trying to tell them, out of the blue, that if they don’t have work done their roof is likely to fall in.

“We know some people are afraid to report this when it happens but I would re-iterate that we will not tolerate this type of fraudulent behaviour in Worcestershire and our Trading Standards Officers will actively investigate criminal complaints of rogue builders such as this, in order to protect the public.”

The advice from the Trading Standards team is to:

· Avoid agreeing to have work carried out on the spur of the moment when people knock on your door.

· Before starting a project, be clear about what you want to do, and have a broad idea of what you want to pay.

· Get a number of quotations from different traders.

· Make sure that you get a detailed quotation setting out the nature of the job, the price of the components and the time taken to complete the work.

· Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Do you have the traders name, address and contact details.

· Don't hand over any money in advance. A good trader will agree payment terms with you, which may include a small proportion as a deposit but not until you have everything in writing that you need if something goes wrong.

To report an incident or for advice on your rights, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

Incidents will then be reported to Trading Standards from there.

Or you can report suspicious activity, for instance if you’ve concerns that an elderly or vulnerable neighbour may be being ripped off, by contacting the police on 101.