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North-east households urged to be vigilant of scams after £150k lost in just six months


By Kyle Ritchie

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Households across the north-east have lost nearly £150,000 to rogue traders in just six months, new figures from consumer watchdogs reveal.

Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) has urged vigilance amid a surge in doorstep scams, mis-sold services and botched household repairs.

The organisation is running a nationwide Shut out Scammers campaign with Police Scotland and councils, which is designed to raise awareness about the risks of accepting work offered by cold callers.

The Shut out Scammers campaign awareness van has been touring the country.
The Shut out Scammers campaign awareness van has been touring the country.

Shocking examples include an Aberdeen couple pressurised into parting with £17,000 for roof repairs, and an elderly woman from Angus who lost £250 to cowboy gardeners.

Experts said that fraudsters are adapting their tactics to exploit the cost of living crisis, including making bogus claims to be working on behalf of the government with fake subsidy offers, or with local authorities.

Criminals often employ online and social media ads featuring misleading information and reviews.

The warning follows increasing reports of incomplete or unsatisfactory roofing, gardening or driveway work.

Figures from TSS show that between January and June this year, a total of £149,100 was lost by 87 households across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray. This works out as an average loss of £1714 per household.

In one particularly alarming case, cold callers visited a couple in the Aberdeen area and offered to carry out a small roof repair for £3000.

After completing this, they claimed further damage was found and that one side of the roof needed re-tiling, costing an additional £14,000.

The homeowners agreed to pay a £3500 deposit, and half of the work was completed.

The trader said the work would be finished the next day and asked for the rest of the money via bank transfer.

The couple wanted a surveyor to inspect the work before making the final payment and asked the workers to leave the scaffolding in place.

In response, the workers began removing the scaffolding and claimed they would not be able to complete the work for a few weeks.

Feeling pressured, the couple paid the remaining money on the spot to ensure the work was completed, as they did not want to be left with a half-finished, non-waterproof roof.

In another example, cold callers in Moray targeted a woman in her 80s, claiming they were working with the council to tidy up her garden.

She agreed to pay £100, and they pulled up some weeds before leaving, saying they would return the next day to complete the work.

The following day, they asked her to pay an additional £150, which she did.

However, they then left without doing any more work, and she was unable to contact them to ask for a refund.

Elsewhere, cold callers visited several properties across Aberdeenshire, offering thermal roof coating and claiming it would save householders hundreds of pounds on their energy bills.

They implied they were working on behalf of the local council.

One couple agreed to have their roof cleaned and coated for around £6000, paying a £1000 deposit.

The company power washed the roof and then left the property, supposedly to get more materials. They did not return.

They provided no contact details, and the couple were unable to get in touch to ask for a refund.

TSS stressed the importance of conducting thorough research into companies before agreeing to any work.

It added that if someone claims to be working for or with a local council, householders should ask them to wait outside and close the door while they call the council to verify their identity.

Customers should also check at least three different review sites and obtain more than one quote for a piece of work.

Consumers are advised against dealing with cold callers and encouraged to seek reputable local traders, with vetted options available on the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS) approved trader portal at www.approvedtrader.scot

Anyone caught out by a scam or suspicious activity should report it using the national advice service Advice Direct Scotland’s tool at www.consumeradvice.scot or contact 0808 164 6000 for support.

Victims of fraud should report it to Police Scotland on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

TSS is also urging people to check in with their older relatives to ensure that that they are aware of these scams.

As part of the campaign, a scam awareness van has been visiting Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray.

Experts partnered with the Royal Bank of Scotland mobile banking service to reach rural communities, as well as touring town and city centre branches.

Police and trading standards officers are on hand to provide advice on avoiding doorstep scams, along with resources such as “no cold calling” stickers and information leaflets.

Councillor Maureen Chalmers, chairwoman of Trading Standards Scotland’s governance board, said: “Scammers are constantly adapting their tactics to take advantage of people, especially when many households across the north-east are struggling to make ends meet with the cost of living crisis.

“So, it is more important than ever to remain vigilant and be on your guard. With our campaign and van, we aim to equip people with the tools and confidence to spot scams effectively.

“We urge consumers not to deal with cold callers and to seek local traders who have been vetted by Trading Standards and who have made a commitment to treat customers fairly via approved trader schemes.

“Do plenty of research into companies before agreeing to any work being undertaken, remembering that online adverts can be misleading and that reviews can be faked.

“It is advisable to check at least three different review sites and to get more than one quote for a piece of work.

“We are also asking people to look out for family members, friends, and neighbours and to report any suspicious behaviour to stop the scammers in their tracks.”




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