Beware of dodgy roof repairers: Corbell

Canfan 8 April 2015


Canberra households should be on high alert to the activities of a travelling con man who is knocking on doors promising roof painting and roof restoration services, warns Attorney-General Simon Corbell.

The warning comes after a Canberra man reportedly paid several thousand dollars to have roofing work undertaken. However, only minor work was performed and the resident is now unable to contact the business.

The con man reported to Canberra authorities used the name ‘John’ and claimed to work for ‘J&J Roofing’. He has a thick Irish accent and may be part of a larger group. Other householders may, therefore, be approached by these itinerant traders.

Corbell said that Canberrans continue to be at risk of being ripped-off by itinerant traders, who knock on doors and offer services including home maintenance, gardening, bitumen driveway sealing, concreting and house and driveway painting.

“These people take payment in advance but do very little work, if any. They may commence the work straight away but, in most cases, they don’t return to complete the job,” he said.

“Please warn your family, friends and neighbours to be cautious when dealing with anyone who knocks on their door offering a service.

“These people are part of a large group who try to scam as many people as they can before they move on to another part of Australia.”

If someone knocks on your door offering a service, Corbell’s office recommends asking the following questions:

  • Did they turn up unexpectedly?
  • Are they offering cheap deals for today only?
  • Are they asking for cash up front?
  • Are they pressuring you to accept the offer?

Other tips to protect yourself against a travelling con man include:

  • Don’t open the door if you suspect a travelling con man is knocking
  • Ask the person to leave. If they refuse, they are breaking the law
  • Record as much information as you can, such as their name and vehicle number plates
  • Ask for an identification card. It should be noted, however, an itinerant trader may offer a business card of a genuine company – only for the resident to find out later that the company did not employ that person.
  • Ask for a written contract, which should include information about your cooling-off period rights if the contract is for $100 or more. The contract should also include an Australian Business Number (ABN) and contact details such as a business phone number, not only a mobile number.

Don’t be tempted by unexpected cheap deals because they may cost more in the long run. If you are unsure, say no.

“Itinerant traders are brazen and have been known to drive consumers to their bank or an ATM to withdraw cash so they can be paid. Don’t ever be pressured in this way. The trader may take your money and not do any of the work that was promised,” Corbell said.

“While some people work for, or operate, legitimate businesses that go from door-to-door, a number of people seek to scam residents and take advantage of their trustworthy nature.

“If you decide to engage a business to do any work on your home, shop around for a quote that suits you and your budget, use established tradespeople who provide written quotes, ask for references from previous clients, and don’t sign anything until you are ready.”

If you think you have been approached by a con man, call the National Travelling Con Men Hotline on 1300 133 408.

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