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News - 4 November 2006

RATs tackle illegal traders

A Rapid Action Team set up by Brighton & Hove City Council to combat illegal traders has saved consumers over £10,000 in its first four months of operation.

The five-strong team has saved dozens of people in the city from being stung by dodgy doorstep traders since being set up in June.

Illegal traders target the elderly and vulnerable and offer to carry out repairs to non-existent problems in gardens, driveways, paving and roofs. They then up the price at the last minute and charge homeowners hundreds or even thousands for a job which didn’t need doing in the first place.

These unscrupulous people make it more difficult for bona fide traders to do business and as a result the council has introduce a ‘Buy with Confidence’ scheme that accredits law-abiding and ethical professionals.

The Rapid Action Team will visit victims of illegal traders and help them to refuse payment or stop cheques. They will also deal with any illegal traders still on the premises. Information is shared with the police and trading standards across the region.

John Peerless head of trading standards at Brighton & Hove City Council said, “These illegal traders target homes very specifically. They drive around an area looking for clues – things like ramps or handrails – to find homes owned by the elderly. If they’ve successfully conned someone, they will often trade their name and address with other illegal traders and that person may be targeted again and again. They are utterly unscrupulous.

“We ask anyone who thinks they may have had a visit from an illegal trader, or who is concerned on behalf of friends or neighbours to contact Consumer Direct, who will then alert the Rapid Action Team.”

Contact the Rapid Action Team by calling Consumer Direct South East on 0845 4040506.


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