Consumers are being warned of opportunistic tradespeople trying to take advantage during the flood recovery process as the state takes steps to repair damaged homes and businesses.
Commissioner for NSW Fair Trading, Rose Webb, said scammers often try to take advantage of vulnerable people during times like these and urged the state’s residents to be on the alert.
“With the destructive floods across NSW, consumers are reminded that anyone who undertakes work to rebuild or repair damaged homes is required to have a valid licence,” Webb said.
Beware of purported tradespeople who simply ‘show up’
“Avoid workers who simply show up without contact to offer their services. [People]
should also check with their insurance provider before authorising any home repairs.
According to Webb, it is advisable to avoid cash transactions if possible. Credit card payments are a better option as chargebacks from banks may be available.
Other advice includes get two or more written quotes for the job; not handing over any money prior to meeting the tradesperson; avoiding payments without a written contract; and not doing business with anyone who asks for a large upfront deposit.
Personal recommendation is better than hiring from ads
“Lastly, it’s also a good idea to ask family and friends for a recommendation rather than choosing a trader from an advertisement,” the Commissioner said.
Previous incidents brought to the attention of NSW Fair Trading show that unlicensed tradespeople may target affected communities offering house repairs, concreting, paving, structural landscaping, and roof repairs amongst other services. These services require a licence if the work is valued at over $5,000.
Fair Trading offers an online tool on its website where consumers can verify licence details and check whether a contractor or tradesperson is qualified to do the job. This is available at: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/help-centre/online-tools/home-building-licence-check
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian described the flooding in mid-late March as a “one in 100-year” event. More than 11,000 damage claims were made between 20 and 23 March, with the Insurance Council of Australia declaring large swathes of the state an ‘insurance catastrophe’.