Consumer advice

Rogue traders

Counterfeit goods are deliberately produced to resemble well-known brands – they are usually poor quality, badly made and sometimes dangerous.

By buying counterfeit goods, consumers are unwittingly putting money into organised crimes - such as people smuggling, drugs, guns, child pornography and even terrorism.

We work with the Federation Against Copyright Theft and have set up a dedicated Financial Investigation Unit. Financial Investigators work along side Trading Standards Officers to recover money and other assets gained from the profits of selling counterfeit goods.

What you can do:

  • don’t buy counterfeit goods
  • be wary of bargains – remember if something seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • poor quality labels, spelling mistakes and inferior packaging can often indicate that the items inside are not genuine
  • report any suspect sellers to Trading Standards
  • for practical advice and information, visit GOV.UK (link opens in new window)

Rogue traders

Typically, rogue traders knock on the door offering work such as tarmacing the drive or repairing loose roof tiles. In some cases the work is unnecessary, and victims may find that any work done is substandard and the price far higher than anticipated.

Although door-to-door canvassing is not illegal, we encourage people to think carefully before agreeing to have work done and avoid handing over cash.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to off-premises and distance contracts. The new period for consumers to change their minds will be 14 days. Traders must refund within 14 days of cancellation of service contract or receipt of goods (or evidence of the consumer returning them).

Consumers who request work to start before the cooling-off period ends still have the right to cancel, but may be liable to pay reasonable costs for any work done.

It is also against the law to use aggressive practices, such as pressure selling adopted by doorstep traders who force customers to pay cash immediately for home repairs.

The following tips may help if considering home maintenance or improvement projects:

  • ask friends and neighbours for recommendations, or choose a trader that is a member of Central Bedfordshire’s Trading Standards Approval scheme
  • shop around and ask for at least 3 written quotes (rather than estimates) before choosing a trader
  • agree a written contract covering the work, price, payment arrangements and start and finish dates
  • never pay the total in cash up front. avoid paying large deposits and keep back enough money to keep pressure on the trader to get on with the job and to finish it properly
  • ask for VAT invoices, get a signed receipt for every payment you make and keep all the paperwork
  • if you pay by credit card or the work is financed by a credit agreement arranged by the trader, you may have extra protection as the lender is jointly liable with the trader for any breach of contract if the work costs between £100 and £30,000

Loan sharks

A loan shark is someone who lends money without the appropriate licence issued by the Office of Fair Trading. Loan sharks rarely give any paperwork, and if payments are missed they often use intimidation and violence to get money from their clients.

Have you been offered a cash loan?

Have you been threatened when you couldn't pay?

Has your bank card been taken from you as a security?

Does what you owe keep growing even though you are making payments?

If you can answer 'yes' to any of the above, then you may have been bitten by a loan shark. If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing any of the above or has any knowledge of loan shark activities, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service (link opens in new window) in confidence or visit 'Report a loan shark' (link opens in new window) at GOV.UK.

No Cold Calling Zones

No Cold Calling Zones are designed to give a clear message to traders and other business callers that residents in the area do not wish to receive unsolicited calls.

It is not illegal for a trader to cold call, but No Cold Calling Signs act as a deterrent.

To report an unwanted doorstep caller, please call the bogus caller hotline on 03454 04 05 06.

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