White Van Man is on the prowl for victims

The first hint of spring sunshine is virtually guaranteed to bring a wave of dodgy 'tradesmen' to local streets, with offers of work that could be unnecessary and possibly hugely expensive.

Householders across North Lanarkshire are prime targets for people whose activities range from borderline fraud to outright criminal theft – which is why the councils trading standards team are sounding a timely alert.

They have seen it all before, and fully expect to see some local resident fleeced for shoddy or useless work before the summer is over.

Elderly people are the most vulnerable could-be victims, but any householder could potentially fall for a “white van man” scam.

Common scams used by bogus callers include offering to initially replace a tile or slate on the roof but then claiming water is getting into the roof which needs replaced urgently, or giving a cheap price to clean and clear the garden but then charging much more for ‘extra’ work carried out.

In the last year 709 bogus caller reports were received from residents across Lanarkshire.

Paul Bannister, Trading standards manager, said: “I would ask local residents to be on their guard with any uninvited callers who turn up on their doorstep offering to carry out home improvement or property maintenance work. Politely inform them that you do not buy on the doorstep and that you wish them to leave.

“Residents should be vigilant and look out for elderly and vulnerable people the community being targeted by rogue traders. If you feel intimidated by a caller, close the door and call either Trading Standards on 01236 856361 or Police Scotland on 101.”

Trading Standards suggest that residents follow doorstep crime prevention advice, such as not agreeing to any work on the basis of a verbal quote, and obtaining written quotes from a number of reputable companies before proceeding. Also, never agree to be taken to the bank to withdraw money.

Free “no cold calling” stickers for your door are available if you call your local Trading Standards Office.

If you suspect there is anyone suspicious operating in and around your area, you’re advised to contact Trading Standards or Police Scotland.