Trading standards stop £430k being handed over to rogue traders in Herts last year

By Deborah Price - Local Democracy Reporter

8th Jul 2024 | Local News

Trading standards officers prevented £430,000 from being handed over to rogue traders in Hertfordshire last year, according to a new report.

Over the 2023/24 period officers were called out to 51 incidents of 'doorstep crime' – where residents can be over-charged for unnecessary home maintenance, with work left unfinished.

And according to the Hertfordshire Community Protection Directorate's annual performance report, they saved around £430,000 from being handed over.

That's an average of £8,500 for every incident reported to the service.

According to the report, officers respond to the vast majority of reported doorstep crimes – 98 per cent – within 24 hours.

And if they are told that a suspected rogue trader is present at a resident's home – or is due to arrive – they will attend immediately.

"Anyone can be targeted, but fraudsters will persist and adapt their approach depending on how an individual reacts and how far they can push the fraud," says the report.

"Building initial trust is a crucial factor and those caught out are often sadly more vulnerable and trusting, believing what they are told.

"Fraud comes in many forms and doorstep rogue trading is one approach that has been investigated by Trading Standards for many years.

"Frequently residents are over-charged for unnecessary home maintenance, with work left unfinished, and menacing and intimidating behaviour used to force payment."

In addition, trading standards officers also work to raise awareness of how to avoid employing rogue trades – giving 32 talks that warn against scams.

"The aim is to help with the longer-term health and well-being of residents; enabling us all to become alert in avoiding the emotional and financial harms a fraud can bring," says the report.

The report also focusses on trading standards' work to clamp down on other forms of unfair and rogue trading – and the sale of illicit tobacco and vaping products.

According to the report officers seized more than 127,000 cigarettes and more than 17,000 vapes, which they say were frequently concealed to avoid detection.

In response to concerns raised by parents the service also investigated the sale of vapes to children.

And as part of their investigation they recorded vapes being sold to children on seven occasions – resulting in two prosecutions.

In addition, according to the report the service assessed 9000 contacts made through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service – with the highest volume of complaints relating to second hand car sales.

The 23/24 annual report was presented to a meeting of the county council's public health and community safety cabinet panel on Wednesday 26 June 26.

     

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