ROGUE traders and cold callers are targeting households in Wiltshire this winter.

Neighbours are urged to be vigilant as scammers try to lure them in with promises of cheaper heating prices during the colder months or quick fixes from unqualified tradespeople which could lead to them being left with shoddy repair work and expensive bills.

OFTEC, a registration body for off-gas grid heating, is raising awareness of the types of scams taking place and how households in Wiltshire can protect themselves.

As the winter approaches, an increased number of unqualified individuals may impersonate heating technicians or other tradespeople. Their work can lead to unsafe heating systems and expensive repair costs.

Make sure the tradesperson has the right accreditation and ID documents, particularly if they ask to be paid for services in advance.

Use a technician who is GasSafe (for mains gas) or OFTEC (for heating oil or solid fuel) registered as they have undergone professional training and are regularly inspected to ensure they are following best practice.

Telephone scams typically involve callers pretending to be from a bank or HMRC. Anyone who receives an unexpected or suspicious call should not share any financial or personal information and hang up immediately. If you have any concerns about a call, contact the bank directly.

As with telephone scams, text scams will often ask for card details and offer HMRC tax returns - but banks and the HMRC will never ask for personal information via text.

Grammar or spelling errors can be a tell-tale sign that the message is not genuine. UK residents can report a scam text message by forwarding it to 7726 - the numbers on the keypad with the letters for ‘spam’.

Avoid clicking on links in emails from unknown senders as they may contain viruses or direct users to a fake website which is designed to look official. Keep web browser and antivirus software up to date to help it flag any up if the website is fraudulent.

Be wary of fraudulent advertisers posing as legitimate retailers on social media who are trying to steal payment details. Read reviews and consider the products and price points – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC said: “Unfortunately, winter is a prime time for scammers and rogue traders to take advantage of Christmas shopping and the drop in temperature. It’s incredibly disheartening to see the number of victims of fraud increase.

“We should all be wary of unexpected phone calls, emails and text messages as well as strangers at the door. Fraudsters often try to pressure you into making a quick decision, so don’t hesitate to take a step back and consider whether an offer is genuine. If you do need a tradesperson to undertake work in your home, make sure they are appropriately qualified and check their ID badge upon arrival.

“For oil households, if you have any concerns about a heating technician, contact OFTEC directly for advice and support.”

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