TRADESMAN who knock on your door offering to do maintenance work often turn out to be dodgy 'travelling con men'.

COTA Victoria shares with Seniors News some great tips for what to look out for.

A seemingly kind offer to do some of the physical maintenance tasks around the home, such as driveway resurfacing, painting, roof repairs and carpet cleaning, at a cheap rate, often ends up pushing seniors to spend far beyond want they want or can afford.

When you are asked to take up a 'today only' special or pay cash up front, be wary.

  • They may ask for cash before starting work and frequently disappear as soon as you pay them.
  • If they do any work, it is often unfinished or of a poor standard.
  • They move quickly and usually only give a first name and mobile number - so contacting them afterwards is difficult.
  • They appear more frequently during warmer weather and after natural disasters, such as floods, fires and storms, when vulnerable people are cleaning up or repairing their properties.

What to look out for

Be suspicious of people who -

  • Knock on your door unexpectedly, offering to paint the house, work on your garden or cut trees, resurface driveways, fix your roof.
  • Offer cheap deals using words like 'for today only'.
  • Ask for cash up front.
  • Offer to drive you to the bank to get money to pay for the job.
  • Pressure you to accept their offer.
  • Say they can do the job now as another nearby has just cancelled.

Particularly after disasters, be wary of anyone offering you a 'today only' deal to carry out repairs for cash.

Tips to protect yourself

  • If you suspect a travelling con man is knocking, do not answer.
  • If you do speak to them, ask them to leave. If they refuse, they are breaking the law.

If you want work done on your house

  • Shop around for the quote that is right for you.
  • Use established tradespeople who provide written quotes.
  • Ask for contact details of previous clients, so you can check references.
  • Don't sign any agreement until you are ready.
  • Ask for the tradesman's full name and registration or licence details (if applicable) so you can check these with their industry authority.
  • Ask for the business's number, so you can call to confirm whether the tradesman works for them.

Report travelling con men in your area

If you know of travelling con men in your area:

  • Record as much information as you can, such as their name and vehicle registration
  • Report them to the national travelling con men hotline on 1300 133 408 between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
  • Report them to your local police.

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