With the new energy price cap recently announced, Solihull Council is advising residents to be cautious of insulation scams. Improving the insulation in your home, whether it’s cavity wall, loft or external wall insulation is a great way to reduce energy bills long term and stay warm in the winter.
However, soaring energy bills are affecting almost everyone - particularly vulnerable residents. Fraudsters may look to exploit this situation with offers of free insulation and discounts that seem far too good to be true. Often they may attempt to legitimise themselves by claiming affiliation with a local authority or the Government.
Solihull Trading Standards, who help protect consumers from unfair trading, have offered up some ‘dos and don’ts’ when it comes to appointing traders.
- Use a recognised business that has been verified as genuine. Solihull Council has partnered with No Rogue Traders Here where you can search for tradespeople approved by Trading Standards.
- Ask relatives, friends or neighbours if they can recommend a trader. Ask them how it went with that trader.
- Get at least three quotes. If a quote doesn’t include the name and address of a trader, it’s best to ignore it. If you get three quotes, don’t assume the cheapest is the best. If one is much cheaper than others, there will be a reason.
- Ensure you have a contract or at least a schedule of works that is on the trader’s company paperwork so it includes their name and address.
- Ensure you have the name and address of the trader in writing. If possible, check out the address by putting it into a search engine. Does it exist?
- Check the trader has public liability insurance – ask to see the certificate and check it’s in date.
- Check out the product the trader is selling you. Look it up online and ensure it will do what it’s supposed to.
- Pay by credit card if possible. If not, debit card. If not, pay by bank transfer. Pay cash as a last resort. Ask for a receipt before handing over the cash; if they’re not willing to provide one, write one out yourself and ask them to write their name on it and sign it.
- Take a look at what insulation and retrofit grants you may be eligible for on the Your Future Solihull website hub.
- Ever employ someone who cold calls you. That includes someone who contacts you electronically, by phone or knocks at the door.
- Just find a trader through social media and employ them. Always get three quotes.
- Pay upfront. If a tradesperson says they need money for materials, this is a warning sign. Reputable traders will not ask for money before doing the work. They’ll likely have accounts with building material suppliers so don’t need to ask for the money upfront.
- Trust reviews alone, as they can be easily faked.
- Employ someone who says they can start immediately or tomorrow. Reputable traders will have customers already booked in so expect to wait a little.
Councillor Andy Mackiewicz, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Planning and Housing, said:
“Scammers are notorious for exploiting volatile situations, like we are seeing at the moment with soaring energy prices. It was just the other day my family got a bogus call from a cold caller claiming our insulation needed inspecting and they offered to send someone round. If you get an inkling something doesn’t feel right, do your due diligence and follow the recommendations from Trading Standards above.
“If something feels off, it’s best in most cases to trust your instincts. Keep chatting to your neighbours, friends and family, particularly those who may be more vulnerable. If you believe you’ve potentially been the victim of a rogue trader, contact Citizens Advice and seek further support.”
To speak to Citizens Advice, please call 0808 223 1133. Opening hours are 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday – Friday.
A spokesperson from No Rogue Traders Here, said:
“When choosing your next tradesperson, No Rogue Traders Here can help you find a legitimate professional, fully approved and monitored by Solihull Trading Standards. Tradespeople from our scheme won’t cold call you or knock your door unannounced and because we vet and continually monitor members so thoroughly you don’t need to do any of that. You can either register with us online or get in touch with the team on 0800 233 5000.”
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