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Warning that conmen will look to cash in on the storms in Hampshire
FOR weeks we have shown grit, determination and spirit to overcome the worst the weather can throw at us.
Across Hampshire, residents have extended helping hands to friends and neighbours so they can cope with the damage and destruction caused by storms and flooding.
But for all the heroes around the county, there are also those looking to take advantage of the situation for their own gain.
Now experts have warned of scams to look out for as the floodwaters recede.
Both Southampton City and Hampshire County Councils’ trading standards teams say residents should be on their guard for conmen looking to cash in.
The county council team is urging residents to beware rogue traders offering their services to fix flood damage or remove potentially dangerous trees.
Incidents have been reported in Lymington of traders without proper identification or paperwork cold calling at homes and offering to clear trees.
They are also being advised to check credentials of anyone collecting money for a charity for victims of flood and storm damage and beware scammers removing road closed signs and then offering to free cars trapped in floodwater for a fee. Hampshire Police has seen two cases of this in the New Forest recently.
Lesley Rose, an advice service manager at Winchester Citizen’s Advice Bureau, said conmen could look to take advantage of people whose homes have been battered by storms and floods, particularly in Winchester where the River Itchen burst its banks and flooded homes.
She said: “We are always very concerned about vulnerable people in the community and this is just the situation where you can imagine that there would be people who would prey on victims of flooding.
“Some residents in Winchester are still having a difficult time with no sign of the problems alleviating and there are people who are particularly vulnerable who need to be on their guard if people come cold-calling, offering to fill potholes or clear up sewage.”
She urged anyone experiencing such visits to contact the CAB on 01962 848000.
A spokesman for Southern Water warned customers to check the identity of anyone turning up offering to remove water or sewage.
She said: Unfortunately bogus callers will seize upon any opportunity to trick their way into people’s homes to steal or con them out of money.
“These people are inventive, appear plausible and often friendly which is how they manage to trick their way into customer’s homes with ease.
“Therefore, we ask our customers to always check the identity of anyone claiming to be from Southern Water.”
Anyone from Southern Water will always carry an identity card with a photograph and name. If they do not show this, call 0845 278 0845.
Trading Standards also advises people to contact their insurance companies before discussing the issues with contractors.
They urge householders to obtain at least three written quotes before any work is done, and to only use a reputable or recommended firm.
The county council also runs the Buy With Confidence scheme, where accredited traders can prove they are “legal, honest and fair”.
If anyone has any information about rogue traders, or needs advice on doorstep crime, they should contact the Hampshire Trading Standards Doorstep Crime Quick Response Team on 01962 833666.
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