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Beware of cowboy builders and doorstep fraudsters

Beware of cowboy builders and doorstep fraudsters

January 29, 2020
Beware who is at the door - could it be a bogus caller?

Most people who call at your home will be genuine. However, sometimes they are not. The council has received reports of ‘cowboy builders’ and fraudsters knocking on doors, falsely claiming they are there to install free loft insulation and boilers.

These fraudsters were claiming to be operating through the council’s ECO-flex scheme. But approved ECO-flex installers will never arrive at your door ready to install on the same day. You should always ask to see an ID badge; and ask for the name and contact information for the company.

Checklist for ‘council’ callers

If someone shows up at your door claiming they are there to carry out works on behalf of the council:

  • Approved repairmen and installers will always show you a work order and company ID, and will be able to refer you back to the council to verify that they are meant to be at your property
  • Never admit a worker if they do not show you an ID badge and clearly state which company they represent, as well as a letter stating that they are carrying out work on behalf of the council
  • Ealing Council has a list of approved ECO-flex installers able to offer free or reduced cost insulation and heating systems. You can call Healthy Homes Ealing at 0800 083 2265 to confirm if a company is working with the council. If you are unsure, ask for their company information and tell them you will call once you have verified their identity
  • Legitimate businesses will never arrive at your door to carry out construction work or installations without your prior knowledge. If someone knocks on your door and tells you that they are there to work on your home, turn them away and report them to the council.

Other stranger calling? Top six tips

Fake or dodgy ‘builders’ are among the most common type of bogus calls in our borough – along with fraudsters pretending to be from the water board, or saying they need to carry out gas checks.

Here are five general tips on what to do if a stranger calls:

  • If in any doubt, do not open the door
  • If you do answer the front door, lock your back door and close windows first
  • Use a spy hole or door-chain to check who the caller is
  • Ask to see the person’s identification, even if they have made an appointment to see you. And, if you are unsure, call their company yourself (not on a number they provide) – if you do this, shut the door while you are doing it
  • If you are still unsure, ask the caller to return another time when someone you trust can be with you.
  • If you think you have a bogus caller and you are worried they are not leaving and are still at your door call 999 – alternatively, you can call the police on 101 to give officers some information. If you are deaf or speech-impaired, text ‘police’ and your message to 60066.

Other kinds of fraud

To find out how modern fraudsters work, what you can do to guard against it and how to report it, watch our video of Inspector Mark Hughes from Ealing Police outlining the 10 golden rules to prevent fraud.