Rogue traders and doorstep sellers targeted in a UK wide day of action

In a bid to disrupt the activities of rogue traders across the UK, Cornwall Trading Standards Officers were this week involved in a range of education and enforcement activities to coincide with Operation Rogue Trader.

Activities in Cornwall ranged from identifying vehicles used by criminals through automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to conducting intelligence-led patrols in areas where older or vulnerable people live, with assistance in Newquay from Devon and Cornwall Police. Cornwall Trading Standards also held a free seminar for partner agencies, charities and volunteer agencies who engage with vulnerable residents, which was supported by BBC Radio Cornwall’s Laurence Reed.

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Operation Rogue Trader is a national week of action aimed at targeting the criminals involved in offering over-priced or poor quality driveway, roofing or other home improvement services. In 2016 activities during the week led to 300 arrests and 5,000 vehicle inspections nationally.

Rogue Traders employ a wide range of tactics that attempt to exploit consumers. These criminal gangs will pressure householders into agreeing shoddy or unnecessary home improvement work, by using a combination of misleading claims and high pressure selling techniques. Rogue traders often travel considerable distances to commit offences, highlighting the need for a national response to effectively tackle the problem.

Leanne McLean, Cornwall Trading Standards Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime said, “Operation Rogue Trader aims to catch offenders and disrupt their activity as well as highlighting the dangers of rogue trading and doorstep crime. Rogue traders prey on the most vulnerable in society, conning them out of vast sums of money, which in many cases is their life savings, for unnecessary and overpriced work. When someone falls foul of a rogue trading con, research shows it has a seriously detrimental effect on the victim’s health and their confidence.”

Tim Day, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute lead officer for doorstep crime said, “Trading Standards Services throughout the UK continue to combat the crimes associated with cold calling home maintenance traders and professional doorstep fraudsters. We aim to take robust enforcement action to provide a meaningful sanction and deterrent. Rogue Trader week is a key part of the strategy to proactively tackle this type of criminality, and intelligence sharing and joint initiatives between Trading Standards nationally will continue, ensuring there is no hiding place for the criminals.”

It is not illegal for traders to sell at the door, but legitimate businesses do not cold call. Rogue traders often offer gardening work or maintenance services at attractive rates but the quality of work is substandard, unnecessary or overpriced. They often use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.

People should report cases of rogue traders or uninvited doorstep callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 04 05 06.

Story posted 12 May 2017