Hartlepool homeowners urged to beware of doorstep conmen

FLASHBACK: Ian Harrison from the council's Trading Standards team with Lorna Hilton from the Safer Hartlepool Partnership and Inspector Mal Suggitt, at the launch of the 'REACT' scheme last month
FLASHBACK: Ian Harrison from the council's Trading Standards team with Lorna Hilton from the Safer Hartlepool Partnership and Inspector Mal Suggitt, at the launch of the 'REACT' scheme last month

COUNCIL bosses have issued a fresh reminder to vulnerable residents to watch out for doorstep conmen after the recent bad weather.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards team revealed late last year that cold-calling tradesmen were making thousands of pounds from unsuspecting customers for repair work on their homes which didn’t actually need doing.

Now, as gusts continue to batter Hartlepool and forcecasters predicting similar weather over the weekend, the local authority has again told people to be on their guard.

They fear an increase in doorstep calls from people seeking to cash in on property damage caused by the gusty conditions.

They are advising homeowners to always say “No” to doorstep callers and to seek at least three quotes when arranging repairs.

Neil Harrison, a senior trading standards officer with Hartlepool Council, said: “Residents, some of whom who may be elderly or vulnerable, often get cold-called by tradesmen pointing out, for example, that their roof ridge tiles have been dislodged and that repairs are required immediately.

“They will feel under pressure to get work done as soon as possible and as a result are likely to accept the first price.

“Prices can be hugely inflated and the quality of work carried out is often sub-standard.

“Our advice would be to always say “No” when cold-called and to seek quotes from at least three reputable sources before agreeing to have any repair work done.”

The latest warning comes in the wake of a recent joint initiative between the Council’s Trading Standards and Community Safety Teams and Cleveland Police to produce and distribute a window sticker aimed at deterring would-be traders from knocking on doors.

The sticker advises residents to “REACT” when they are approached in their homes by an uninvited trader:

R – Refuse entry

E – Explain “I don’t deal with doorstep callers”

A – Ask them to leave

C – Close the door

T – Tell Trading Standards on (01429) 523362

The stickers are available free of charge from Hartlepool Civic Centre and from any of the town’s libraries.

Anyone can report concerns about rogue traders by calling Trading Standards on (01429) 523362 and residents in need of free crime prevention advice, including assistance with the provision of door chains or other security devices, can contact Lorna Hilton in the Council’s Community Safety Team on (01429) 523100.