Published on: 30 May 2024

What are rogue trader or doorstep scams?

You’re at home one day when you hear a knock at the door.

A supposed tradesperson, often a roofer, driveway builder or gardener, is there. They say they’re working in your area. They’ve noticed some urgent work that needs to be done on your home and they’ve kindly come round to offer their services. For a cash fee. Or perhaps there’s a small job they wouldn’t mind patching up for you for a surprisingly low cash-in-hand price.

You don't want to let this opportunity pass. And you’re worried about the damage to your property if you let this issue continue. So, you agree to their price given the urgency of the situation.

The scammer may trick you into paying in full upfront, before they’ve even started work. They may find ‘additional problems’ after starting work, which need extra cash immediately. Or they may get you to pay some of the quote but then never return to finish the job or make good.

Warning signs of a rogue trader

  • They refuse to give you a written quote.
    Without a paper trail or written quote, it’s hard for you to look into their company, compare prices or contact them if things start to go wrong. Always get itemised quotes from several providers that show exactly what you’re paying for.

  • They pressure you into an urgent decision.
    You shouldn’t feel rushed into having work done on your home by someone on your doorstep. Calmly explain that you cannot commit or pay now and want to get other quotes. A reputable trader will understand. If the work is needed, take the time to ask different tradespeople questions about why it's needed and why they’re recommending particular materials. Ask friends, family and neighbours for advice too. They may have had similar work done or know a good tradesperson.

  • They don't have a website or any online presence.
    Not all tradespeople will be on social media or independent comparison websites like Checkatrade (opens in a new window). But these are good places to check for reviews and examples of their work. It’s always worth doing a quick search for them online to read other people’s experiences.

  • They say they’re doing some work locally, but you cannot go round and see their work.
    With home improvements, it can be useful to see a tradesperson’s previous work and speak to their past customers. What were they like to work with? Were they respectful of the property? Was the quote accurate? This won’t always be possible. But if they’re doing work locally and happened to notice something on your home, it’s a warning sign if you cannot go to their other, local site.

  • They tell you to go to our branch and take out cash while they set up.
    You should never pay upfront for work on your property. A small, nominal deposit following an exchange of a written quote or other paperwork can be OK. But the full price should only be paid on completion. If you’re ever unsure about making a payment, please check the payment with us first using our Scam Checker Service. We’re here to help.

What to do if you suspect you've been scammed

If you suspect you’re a victim of a rogue trader, it’s vital that you get in touch with us as soon as possible. We’ll talk you through what we can do to help.

We also recommend using the Citizens Advice service, including their consumer helpline.

Victim Support

Our partnership with this independent charity supports customers who’ve been a victim of fraud or a scam. They offer a tailored service to meet your individual needs. It’s free, non-judgemental and confidential. And they will help you for as long as you need.

The Nationwide Fraud team will refer you for further support if you need it.

Stop. Challenge. Protect

We're proud to be supporting the industry fraud awareness campaign Take Five, which encourages you to perfect the art of saying NO to criminals by taking five minutes to Stop, Challenge, Protect.

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police so it can be difficult to spot scam texts, emails and phone calls. However, there are things we can all do to protect ourselves.

Always remember to challenge if someone contacts you asking for your personal or financial information – be direct and say NO. Saying NO can feel uncomfortable but it’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

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