Direct Line magazine

Don’t get caught out by home scams

Updated on: 22 March 2021

A tradesperson pours tarmac on a drive.

If you're a property owner or tenant, don't get caught out by household scams designed to part you with your cash.

Here are six common tricks 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. He says he’s going to be on your road doing windows later that afternoon, and he'll do yours at the same time if you're able to give him an upfront payment.

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 say 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 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 the property is either already rented out to someone else, or 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

Ever 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 themself.

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 upfront 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 calling 0300 123 2040 or you can find more information at

If someone has sold you overpriced, faulty or inferior services or products, you should report them by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline. You could also contact Trading Standards - just click here to find your nearest office.

Unless you know a tradesman well, and believe them to be trustworthy, never hand over cash upfront. Only pay after the work is done and after you’ve determined it’s of a satisfactory quality.

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