What are fake tradies? People who claim to be tradesmen and offer to do work on your home at reduced prices. They ask for payment before starting the work and, once they are paid, they then disappear with your money regardless of whether they begin the work or leave the work unfinished or of a substandard quality.
They look for houses that have handrails and ramps, often targeting older Victorians. They either knock on your door or approach you while you are in the garden, offering:
- driveway resurfacing
- house painting
- gardening or tree cutting
- roof and guttering repairs, and
- carpet cleaning.
Find out how Margaret was scammed out of $10,000.
If you want work done on your house:
- shop around for a 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
- do not 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.
What to look out for
Fake tradies can be sophisticated in how they attract business. Be suspicious of flyers and websites that may look legitimate but offer cheap services. Check for reviews of tradies who advertise via online service hire platforms.
Also be suspicious of people who:
- use words like ‘for today only’
- only give a first name and mobile number
- pressure you to accept their offer, and
- say they can do the job now as another nearby has just cancelled.
Fake tradies no longer only do ‘cash only’ deals. Many now have EFTPOS machines or ask for money to be transferred into bank accounts.
Fake tradies often use:
- flyers that have industry standard logos, Australian Business Numbers (ABN) and Australian Company Numbers (ACN)
- signage on light poles or traffic lights, and
- door-knocking with ‘today only’ specials.
Other scams to be wary of
Our growing use of technology gives scammers more opportunities to trick people into giving away personal and/or financial information. Scammers can use personal information to steal your identity for financial gain.
Here are some other tips on how to avoid being scammed:
- Keep personal information private
- Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust
- Lock your mailbox
- Shred any sensitive documents you no longer need, and
- Check your credit report using a reputable credit reference bureau at least once a year, this can help you catch any unauthorised activity. Visit The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner for information.
To find out more, visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.