'Winter is prime time for scammers' - Warning over bogus heating engineers

Smart home control panel of a home gas boiler system

OFTEC has fired a warning over winter scams - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Households in Suffolk are being urged to be vigilant against scams this winter after statistics revealed bogus tradesmen had cost victims in the county more than £150,000 over the past year. 

The rolling figures from Action Fraud showed that rogue traders and door-to-door salesmen have conned £155,100 from Suffolk victims over the past 13 months. 

Winter is a particularly dangerous time for scams, with fears that households may be lured in by promises of cheaper heating prices in the colder months from fraudsters.

Unqualified tradesmen, offering quick fixes and potentially putting people at risk of shoddy work in the home and expensive repair bills, are also a concern at this time of year. 

An OFTEC technician with his ID card

An OFTEC technician with his ID card - Credit: OFTEC

OFTEC, a registration body for off-gas grid heating, wants to raise awareness of bogus technicians and how people in Suffolk can protect themselves. 

The organisation is urging people who need their boiler serviced to make sure the tradesman has the right accreditation and ID documents - particularly if you are asked to pay for services in advance.

People should 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, the body advised. 

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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.”

For more information, click here to visit the OFTEC website.