Two virtual question-and-answer sessions will take place this week to raise awareness of rogue traders and scams.

The digital events will be held on Twitter and have been arranged by Nottingham City Council’s Trading Standards team as part of a Rogue Trader Week.

The first, taking place tomorrow (Tuesday), will be aimed at consumers who have questions about rogue traders, while the second one on Thursday will be for businesses in the city.

Conmen are a problem across the country and often target vulnerable residents with the sole intention of obtaining money through deception and fraud.

They routinely go door-to-door pretending to be sales people and offering cheap home improvement services or other products. Often this starts out as charming and friendly, but they can be very difficult to get rid of. It includes:

  • High-pressure selling techniques
  • Insisting unnecessary work is required
  • Extortionate prices charged for simple jobs which are often not completed
  • Poor-quality work carried out which requires a professional and experienced trader to rectify.

Trading Standards officers in Nottingham have been made aware of various rogue traders operating across the city – builders failing to complete work and using pressure techniques to demand up to £3,000 from a consumer, as well as a roofing company which took a £6,000 deposit and never returned to do any work.

Common claims used by rogue traders are:

  • ‘Your house needs urgent repairs’
  • ‘We’re only in the area for a short time, so we will need to start the work today’
  • ‘We have just done work for your neighbour’
  • ‘I can offer you fantastic discounts if you pay now and in cash’

Rogue Trader Week aims to reduce the number of conmen operating in the Nottingham area by informing consumers on how to spot and report them, as well as supporting businesses to offer legitimate and fair services.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre, said: “We have been working hard to drive rogue traders out of Nottingham for many years now, and it’s dreadful that conmen have ramped up their efforts to trick local people off the back of the current global pandemic.

“One of the classic tactics is preying on people’s fears and we’ve seen examples of that in recent weeks around not only the usual things like unnecessary building work, but also scams involving Covid ‘cures’ or ‘essential protective equipment’.

It’s important to know how to spot rogue traders. Many offer services for home improvements and may lie about, or exaggerate, work that needs to be done. This could include driveway repaving, roofing or garden landscaping. They may also offer products for sale such as furniture, mobility aids and security systems.

“Cowboy traders will try anything to reel you in, whether it’s using misleading or false claims or scare tactics such as risks around home security.

“After the work has started, these traders claim that the job has turned out to be bigger than they thought and start demanding large amounts of cash. Once they have been paid, they often leave and do not return.

“But it’s not just someone knocking on the door that you should be cautious of. Many rogue traders also distribute glossy flyers to advertise their services and include professional-looking websites with fake contact details so they cannot be traced.

“Our advice is always to seek two or three quotes for any job, and try to take recommendations for reliable and reputable tradespeople. Never sign up to anything, or agree a job, on the doorstep or after a quick search on the internet or social media.

“We’ve launched Rogue Trader Week for people, both householders and businesses, to spot the signs and would invite them to take part in our two virtual question-and-answer session this week.”

The first one for the public takes place tomorrow (Tuesday) between 3pm and 5pm, while the second for business owners will be at the same time on Thursday 1 October. Questions can be logged on Twitter by tagging @NottmCityTS.

Trading Standards will also be working in partnership with Community Protection officers who will be delivering advisory leaflets to vulnerable residents, containing information and advice about rogue traders. Anyone suspicious about a trader in their area can call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 and give a description of them and any vehicle.