Sutton residents are being encouraged to be very wary of doorstep callers offering to do building repairs to their home.
The advice comes from Sutton Council’s Trading Standards team after an incident when two men called at the home of a West Sutton resident, claiming to be a surveyor and a builder.
The men told the elderly resident they worked for the agent of the unoccupied house next door. They said that water had been coming through the ceiling from the loft and had made the adjoining wall unstable and in need of urgent repair as it was in danger of collapsing. They offered to carry out immediate repairs to the wall, which included hiring a dehumidifier, for just under £6,000.
The elderly resident went to her bank in Sutton town centre and told staff she wanted to transfer £5,700 to another bank account. When challenged she said the transfer was for a family member, then admitted it was to builders who had cold called.
The men had told her to tell the bank the money was for a family member as it would be easier to obtain the money from the bank. However, bank staff did not permit the money transfer to go ahead.
Cllr Nick Emmerson, Lead Councillor of Trading Standards at Sutton Council, said:
“We commend the bank staff for their quick thinking in preventing a Sutton resident from making a large cash withdrawal that was completely out of character. Many elderly residents have lost money after tricksters have demanded money upfront for materials without carrying out any work, have greatly overcharged for straightforward repairs or have deliberately caused damage to argue that costly repairs are needed. Such opportunists are bad news for all our residents and are a blight on honest and hardworking traders, which is why the council has the Safer Sutton Trader Scheme.
“This list has been thoroughly vetted by Trading Standards and offers a range of professional tradespeople in the borough who are neither bogus builders nor unscrupulous opportunists. All of the businesses are checked by Trading Standards to ensure they are providing an assured service before they are listed and promoted by Sutton Council and the Met Police in Sutton.”
Sutton Council’s Safer Sutton Trader Scheme helps residents to avoid bogus builders and unscrupulous traders. To find an approved trader, please visit the Safer Sutton Trader Scheme website or call 020 8770 5070 for details.
If you are a trader wishing to join the Safer Sutton Trader Scheme, follow the Kingston & Sutton shared service on Twitter here, follow the #SaferSuttonTrader hashtag here, or call the Trading Standards team on 020 8770 5632.
The Citizens Advice website has advice about how to safeguard your interests when employing a contractor.
Sutton Trading Standards advises residents to obtain three quotes for any work they want carried out. The law requires that where you contract with a tradesperson in your home, you must be provided with a 14-day cooling off period. All reputable traders will provide you with these cancellation documents.