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Travelling conmen – don’t become another victim 

8 January 2015

NSW Fair Trading Acting Commissioner John Tansey is urging people to be vigilant if approached by sales or tradespeople travelling door-to-door, following 117 complaints regarding travelling conmen in the last calendar year.

“Travelling conmen are opportunists who will use every conceivable trick to rip-off or make money from vulnerable members of the community,” Mr Tansey said.

“No matter how tempting their deal or offers may sound, it isn’t worth ongoing headache, as conmen often don’t fully deliver the services they’ve promised and victims are left to clean up and repair the mess.

“A common tactic used by con-artists is pressure selling, where the scammer invents a special offer or situation to pressure the consumer into purchasing their product or service.

“In recent weeks we have received reports of door-to-door traders in the Tamworth region claiming that their vehicle had broken down and using this to pressure residents into buying bitumen.

“Businesses and traders that use pressure or other unfair, deceitful or threatening tactics on consumers are committing an offence under the Australian Consumer Law, and can be reported to NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.”

If consumers feel threatened they should call NSW Police immediately.

In 2014, Fair Trading received reports on travelling conmen working in the following fields:

  • Bitumen/bitumen driveways – 63
  • Tree-lopping/trimming – 16
  • Roofing/roof related works – 17
  • Painting – 5
  • Driveway cleaning – 2
  • Line marking - 9
  • Other (assorted work) – 5

Mr Tansey said NSW Fair Trading remained vigilant in tracking down and prosecuting travelling conmen.

“A lot of work is done within NSW to track down and find travelling conmen and we rely heavily on tip offs from the public to find the latest areas where conmen may be operating,” he said.

“Through the national Travelling Conmen Hotline we work closely with agencies from other states to track the movements and warn consumers about travelling conmen.

“Consumers can report travelling conmen by calling the Travelling Conmen Hotline on 1300 133 408.”

Residential bitumen work and roof painting / repairs valued over $1000 in material and labour requires the contractor be licenced by Fair Trading. Always ask to see your contractor’s current licence.

The Australian Consumer Law stipulates that people door knocking or cold calling residents in NSW to offer work valued at more than $100 must tell consumers about their rights, including the right to terminate agreements and the existence of a 10 business day cooling off period for unsolicited agreements that result from cold call arrangements. Payment cannot be demanded and work may not begin during the 10 day cooling off period.

Visit the Stop Travelling Conmen Facebook page and check the interactive map for reports of travelling conmen at: www.stoptravellingconmen.org.

Media contact: 02 9962 9488

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