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Beware travelling conmen offering storm repairs

13 December 2018

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is reminding Queenslanders likely to be affected by severe storms or tropical cyclones to be on the lookout for travelling conmen.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said wild weather could bring out dodgy door-to-door traders looking to prey on those who needed help with storm clean-up.

“Itinerant traders can be drawn to an area affected by storms, offering victims on-the-spot property repairs or tree removal services,” Mr Bauer said.

“When the federal or state government has declared a disaster situation for an area, door-to-door traders can waive the usual 10 business day cooling-off period to start on emergency repairs.

“This is only in situations where there is a hazard or risk to people or property if the repairs do not go ahead.

“However, even in this case, door-to-door traders cannot accept payment on the spot.”

Mr Bauer said in all cases, whether a disaster situation had been declared or not, those approached at their homes should be very wary if a trader did not have proper identification or contact details.

“Red flags to look out for are when a doorknocker offers ‘today only’ deals, asks for cash up-front, puts pressure on you to accept, or offers to drive you to the bank to get money to pay for the job,” he said.

“Remember, door-to-door traders must generally not accept payment or commence work on your property within the 10 business day cooling-off period, and you can cancel any agreement within this period without penalty.

“The OFT can provide you with a free ‘Do Not Knock’ sticker for your door if you don’t want traders to visit your home uninvited.”

Mr Bauer said it was important not to mistake travelling conmen for State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers who may also be offering temporary emergency repairs following a natural disaster.

To request a ‘Do Not Knock’ sticker, or to report an itinerant trader, contact the OFT via www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

For further information about the services the SES can provide in an emergency, visit www.ses.qld.gov.au.