Every year, thousands of property owners, tenants, and those looking for somewhere to rent, are caught out by scams designed to part them from their cash.
Here are six common con tricks we all need to be aware of ‐ and what you should do if you fall victim to one of them.
1. The window cleaner who never comes back
A window cleaner turns up on your doorstep with a ladder, bucket and other cleaning equipment that makes him appear totally legit. He says he’s going to be on your road doing windows later that afternoon, and if you give him an up‐front payment he’ll do yours at the same time.
But once you’ve given him the money, he never returns.
2. The tarmac trick
A tarmac gang who claim to be working in the area says they have some tarmac ‘left over’ which they can use to do your drive at a bargain rate.
Once you’ve agreed, they typically do a very poor job and then sting you for a much higher bill than you were expecting.
3. Carpet cleaning con
You’re called out of the blue by a company offering to clean your carpets at a cut-price cost. When you accept the offer, a cleaner arrives. After ‘inspecting’ your carpets, they tell you your carpet needs a deep clean, and that the basic clean they originally quoted you for won’t do the job.
Needless to say, the deep clean comes with a hard sell, and costs you a vast amount, meaning you end up paying considerably more than you’d ever planned to.
4. Rental fraud
You’re looking to rent a property and spot an advert in your local paper for your ideal home. You contact the supposed landlord, who requests that you pay an upfront fee to rent the property. You then discover either that the property is already rented out to someone else, or worse ‐ it doesn’t even exist!
Not only do you lose the fee you have paid, but you also have to find somewhere new to rent.
5. Roofing robbers
Someone knocks on your door claiming to be a roofer. Apparently they’ve spotted a problem with your roof and offer a free inspection.
During the inspection they ‘spot’ some serious problems that need repairing immediately to prevent major damage to your property.
In reality, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your roof, and you end up paying for repairs you didn’t need in the first place.
6. Double-glazing scam
Noticed one of your windows has been cracked or damaged without knowing what caused it? This could be the work of a double-glazing fraudster who has caused the damage himself.
They turn up on your doorstop and point out the damage, and then offer a great deal on some new windows if you sign on the dotted line there and then. You’ll be asked for a deposit up‐front so they can get the windows in quickly.
Once you’ve handed over the money, you never see the salesman or your deposit ever again.
What you can do if you fall victim to a scam
Your first step should be to report the scam to Action Fraud, which is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre.
You can contact Action Fraud by telephone on 0300 123 2040 or you can find more information at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
If someone has sold you overpriced, faulty or inferior services or products, you should report them by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06, or contact your local Trading Standards office. You can find your nearest office via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office.
Unless you know a tradesman well, and believe them to be trustworthy, never ever hand over cash up‐front. Only pay after the work is done and after you’ve determined it’s of a satisfactory quality.