Day of action targets rogue traders

Rogue traders, illegal metal collectors and pushy doorstep sellers were targeted during a multi-agency day of action in Pendle on Wednesday last week.

Lancashire County Council Trading Standards joined with the police, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and Pendle Council to launch a crackdown on rogue builders and roofers preying on vulnerable people across the borough and beyond. Unroadworthy vans, benefit fraudsters and unlicensed scrap collectors were also targeted.

The action day saw 70 vans checked and 65 traders advised at two roadside checkpoints in Colne.

Fifty-eight trading standards offences were uncovered, including the use of incorrect paperwork, failure to advise customers of their cancellation rights, the use of incorrect names and addresses on documents and fraudulent use of trade federation logos. Traders have been advised and paperwork seized where necessary, and investigations are continuing.

Seventeen vehicle safety problems were also uncovered, with several traders stopped from driving until repair works were carried out and two vehicles seized by police for having no insurance.

Several traders were checked for compliance with scrap metal and waste carrier licensing and were reported. All traders spoken to were also checked against benefits claims records, and several investigations are continuing.

County Coun. Janice Hanson, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “Tackling bogus traders is a top priority for Trading Standards, and our number one piece of advice is simply never to do business with any cold callers.

“If a company uses pressure sales to try to get you to buy goods or agree to have work done immediately, alarm bells should start ringing.

“Typically we find that a small job such as cleaning gutters soon turns into an endless list of demands for fixing slates and repointing ridge tiles.

“Reputable firms will not demand cash up front, and will be happy to come back another day to give you time to think about it and get other quotes.”

Sgt Kim De Curtis from Lancashire Constabulary said: “Rogue traders prey on vulnerable members of our community, and we have seen them con people out of vast sums of money for work that is substandard, unnecessary and overpriced. “Offenders will pose as builders, odd job men or gardeners and will pretend work needs doing when actually it does not. If they do carry out any work, they will do it badly and charge extortionate amounts that are well over the agreed price.

“We hope this operation and others like it will show rogue traders they are not welcome in Lancashire, and raise awareness of the dangers of rogue traders and doorstep crime.”