Rogue traders are believed to cost Herts residents more than £15 million a year, according to a new report.
The study by Herts County Council’s trading standards team, outlines how rogue traders often arrive on the doorstep of elderly or vulnerable residents offering to do roofing, building, gardening, or driveway works.
But they then charge excessive amounts for the work, which can also be of poor or questionable quality.
In one recent case, according to the report by trading standards, one rogue trader was prosecuted for charging £69,000 for work on an extension that was independently valued at £17,000.
And another was prosecuted for fraud, acquiring criminal property and engaging in aggressive commercial practice, after taking £28,000 from a bereaved resident, who had initially contracted them to fix a minor leak.
Last year there were more than 50 reports of rogue traders made to the county council’s trading standards officers – and a further 308 reports made to Hertfordshire Police.
But trading standards officers believe there are high rates of under-reporting of this crime – with estimates that as few as five per cent of incidents being reported at all.
Various measures are in place to combat doorstep crime, including 169 ‘no cold calling areas’ – covering 9,009 properties – around the county, while with larger incidents staff at banks and building societies are encouraged to call police if they have concerns.