Friday, May 12, 2017
Lancashire Police and Trading Standards have joined forces this week to disrupt dishonest traders and scammers as part of a UK-wide crackdown, Operation Liberal.
Activities as part of Operation Rogue Trader included roadside checks on traders reminding them of consumer laws which give people rights to cancel contracts signed in their own homes and visits to people identified as being potential victims of scam mail.
Visits were made to 65 people who had replied to scams, their letters having being retrieved by the National Trading Standards Scams Hub. Officers checked on people's welfare and warned them not to fall prey to mailing scams and prize draws.
Officers also made the rounds of Post Offices to remind staff to be aware of customers drawing out unusually large sums of money or transferring thousands of pounds abroad.
In the last year, Lancashire Trading Standards has received 174 calls about doorstep incidents and nearly 500 complaints about scams.
Paul Noone, head of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service, said: "Operation Rogue Trader is a key part of the national strategy to proactively target this type of criminality and ensure that agencies are effective in sharing information and resources.
"Rogue traders prey on our most vulnerable residents, conning them out of vast sums of money, which in many cases is their life savings, for unnecessary and overpriced work. Research shows that this can have a serious and lasting effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.
"Our advice is always to say no to cold-callers. If you need a job doing get a number of quotes and agree a price and the work to be done in writing before going ahead. Our Safe Trader Scheme is a good place to begin if you're looking for trusted tradespeople."
Chief Inspector David Mangan, of Lancashire Police, added: “This week of activity is aimed at disrupting criminals who masquerade as legitimate traders in order to target vulnerable residents.
“Rogue trading is a UK wide problem and evidence suggests that rogue traders often travel vast distances to commit offences and a number of distraction burglars network with each other and associate with rogue traders.
Therefore it’s important to raise awareness on a local and national level of the dangers of rogue trading.”
The last UK-wide Rogue Trader Operation in 2016 saw nearly 300 people arrested, nearly £3m worth of property recovered and over 5,000 vehicles inspected.
Recent successful prosecutions in Lancashire include a doorstep fish seller from Durham who was given a Criminal Behaviour Order, putting a stop to his pushy selling to elderly and vulnerable people in Preston and Accrington; a Burnley man who carried out shoddy roofing and gardening work being given a two-month prison sentence; and a Pendle trader receiving a six-week suspended sentence for misleading householders into having shoddy driveway work.
People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of any distraction burglar or rogue trader should ring their local police or call Crimestoppers, the national charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.
You can find trusted tradespeople at www.safetrader.org.uk or call 0303 333 1111.
Tagged as: Consumer Advice