While most traders are legitimate there are still many bogus ones too to be aware of. Photo: Cetteup/Unsplash

Shut the door on bogus traders

While the majority are legitimate there are, unfortunately, still many bogus door-to-door traders out there who target the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Below is some invaluable advice from An Garda Síochána for identifying these predators and protecting yourself and your home from attack.

Poor work with excessive charges

The culprits will usually call to the home of a victim identified by them beforehand. This is often the home of an older or frail person living alone. This information is usually gleaned by surveillance or ‘innocent’ enquiries made locally.

They will often call on the pretext of being professional roofers, guttering experts, painters or other trades people and attempts to convince the victim that repairs need to be carried out. On completing the work, they then demand payment by cash, often using threatening and intimidating tactics and even driving the victim to the bank to collect money.

Bogus VAT charges

Different members of the same gang may return at a future date posing as VAT or Revenue officials. They will demand money for work already performed by them and seek further payments.

Deposit scams

When the criminals are satisfied that they have hoodwinked the victim into engaging them for work, they will demand a deposit to purchase the materials needed to carry out the repairs. Having secured the deposit, they flee, never to return.

Opportunity thefts

The thieves will target a particular area and offer a service to the victim. Once inside the home, they will determine what might be worth buying well below the market value. This could be furniture, paintings or other valuables. They then coerce their victim into signing receipts for the sale.

What can people do to prevent this criminal behaviour?

Ask for a sales brochure or other documentation that you can subsequently investigate and verify as credible. This should have a contact telephone number, known address and a VAT registered number.

Be particularly careful where sales documentation only displays mobile contact numbers or incomplete addresses.

If you are satisfied that the company or individual is credible, ask for an itemised written quotation for the services being offered and the names of persons and locations where they have previously worked successfully.

Always seek comparable estimates for any services offered from other established reputable companies. Never engage a person who insists on cash payment for services offered. Even when employing a reputable company, always use a method of payment that is traceable.

Never leave strangers, even bona fide workers, unsupervised in your home.

If you think you have been a victim of this kind of criminal activity, gardaí say you should never be embarrassed and should write down all you can remember about what happened, including descriptions of the persons, their clothing, any peculiarities or distinguishing features and any vehicles used by them.

Gardaí also recommend the use of ‘bogus caller cards’ which can be handed to any callers to your home on which genuine traders can leave their details. These are available at your local garda station.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!