Police are urging residents and businesses affected by the recent flooding to be aware of rogue traders.
Last week many communities across Cheshire were left devastated following persistent heavy rain, which left hundreds of homes and business premises across the county under water.
Now the flooding has subsided, local people are returning to their homes to assess the damage and determine what work will be required to make their homes habitable.
Detective Superintendent Paul Beauchamp, of Cheshire Police’s Crime Operations Unit said: “We understand that residents and businesses affected by the recent flooding will be keen to get back to some kind of normality as soon as possible. To do this, you may need help from builders or tradesmen.
“While the vast majority of builders and traders are legitimate, unfortunately, there are a number of rogue traders who will use the floods as an opportunity to scam people out of as much money as possible.
“Rogue traders often appear to be highly professional. They can have printed leaflets and vehicles branded with their company name, making people think they are legitimate.
“They often use highly pressurised selling techniques to convince victims to use their services and charge exorbitant prices for work that is often of a poor standard, or never carried out.
“I would urge anyone who is looking at getting work done to think carefully and don’t rush into anything. It’s essential that you speak to your insurance company before you sign any contracts.
“You should also look at getting more than one quote and ask to see any relevant documentation. It’s worth checking whether traders are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme or the Government’s TrustMark scheme.”
Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: "The devastation we saw across Cheshire last week was absolutely heartbreaking and this kind of activity is the last thing that our communities need.
“As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I want to make it as difficult as possible for these types of criminals to operate in the county and I would urge all residents and businesses affected to follow the advice given.
“I would also like to remind communities about the emergency funding, which I have made available to support residents and businesses who have been affected by flooding.
“Grants of up to £1,000 are available for projects supporting those recovering from flood damage or people who have been evacuated from their homes due to the flood waters.
“Further details about the scheme, which is funded by money taken from criminals, can be found online at https://www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk/news/latest-news/2021/01/flooding-emergency-funding/ .
Before agreeing to any work being carried out on your home or business you should take into consideration the following points:
If you feel that improvement or maintenance work needs carrying out at your property, discuss this with a relative or a friend who can help you find a reputable trader.
Professional looking leaflets or advertisements are not indications of traders being reputable with all the relevant documentation – check whether traders are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme or the Government’s TrustMark scheme.
Get quotes from a number of traders before agreeing to have work done, to ensure that you are not overcharged.
Always ask for quotes in writing.
It is wise to get quotes from around four different traders to check that the prices quoted are fair.
Do not let anyone pressure you into having work done.
Never agree to have work done unless you have seen examples of the trader’s work.
Do not pay cash up front and never go to the bank or to a cashpoint with a trader.
Make sure that you get contact details and the address of any business you are considering for work at your property – if possible, visit the premises to check that it exists.
Do not be fooled by someone who says that they are just working up the street or that they have done work for your neighbour – ask for specific examples and then follow up to check if what they have said is true.
If someone calls at your home trying to sell you something, do not let them in and ask for ID.
Always check the identity of doorstep callers by telephoning the company they are claiming to be from – use the number listed in your local phonebook or on the company’s website, never use a number the doorstep caller gives you.
If you believe that you, or someone you know, are being targeted by a rogue trader please call us on 101 or give the details via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report. It’s also worth passing the details to the trading standards department at your local council.