Lincolnshire Trading Standards, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Environment Agency and Immigration Enforcement have joined forces with Lincolnshire Police this week to crack down on rogue trading in the County.
The national week of action started on Monday and combined enforcement with engagement to crack down on rogue trading and highlight the issue to the Lincolnshire public.
Rogue traders and pushy doorstep sellers con vulnerable people by overcharging, charging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately, leaving work unfinished and intimidating behaviour in order to extort money (e.g. taking a customer to an ATM for payment).
The multi-agency approach to combat rogue traders brought together teams of staff from each organisation.
The teams worked across the county to seek out rogue traders and provide information and support to residents along the way. The advice to anyone with concerns about a caller will be “Not sure? Don’t open the door!”
Two vans carrying the joint agency teams covered the East and West of the County. Their brief was to conduct enquiries, respond to reports of potential rogue trading and raise awareness of this area of criminality within local communities.
Detective Inspector Robert Grace for Lincolnshire Police urged people to help the operation by reporting any suspicious activity.
He said: “Rogue traders target the most vulnerable using various tactics to bully them into handing over money.
“You might not fall for such tactics but an elderly relative or neighbour might.”
“If a cold caller is overly aggressive in their sales tactics, suggests unnecessary work or fails to agree a set cost, alarm bells should ring. Rogue trader have been known to persuade clients to go to an ATM with them so they can extort more money from them.
“These are despicable people. Don’t let them get away with it. Make notes on the appearance and clothing of a suspect and take down any details of their vehicle, then pick up the phone and report it via 101.”
Kirsty Toyne, principal trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Doorstep crime can affect anyone, but most often it is the elderly and vulnerable who are targeted. Rogue traders can be very persuasive and convincing in their approach and it can be very distressing and frightening for an elderly or vulnerable person who is unaware of how to protect themselves.
“Tracking down and catching these rogue traders is an absolute priority for Lincolnshire County Council’s Trading Standards teams. Working with our partners, including Lincolnshire Police and HMRC, we are committed to working together to tackle this issue and will take appropriate enforcement action against those involved.”
Anthony Scott from HMRC Hidden Economy Team, said:
“This joint operation is just one of HMRC’s Hidden Economy Team’s crackdowns on the dishonest minority of people who try to keep outside of the tax system. If you are caught you may not only have to pay what you owe but additional penalties and interest on top. If you know of anyone trading or working and not paying their dues, please tell us via the Police 101 number.”