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Be aware of scammers in the wake of wild weather 

22 April 2015

Minister responsible for Fair Trading Victor Dominello is warning residents to be aware of storm-related scams as the wild weather continues across various regions of NSW.

“As we move into clean-up mode in the days to come, consumers should be aware of door knockers offering to do repair work, such as tree lopping or roof repairs,” Mr Dominello said.

“Always check whether a tradesperson is licensed when appropriate and be aware of the cooling off period for unsolicited offers. Under Australian Consumer Law, consumers have a 10-day cooling off period, during which they are not required to pay anything.

“Legitimate traders should know that they cannot ask for payment within 10 business days of delivering products or services over $100. Before engaging anyone do your research by heading online and seeing what others are saying about the trader.

“I know people with property damage will be anxious to have repairs carried out as quickly as possible, however using unqualified traders can result in shoddy work, making it very difficult to seek redress.

“Storm damage can be a major issue for landlords, tenants and real estate agents when a rental property is involved. Fair Trading can provide advice on your rights and obligations where repairs are required. 

“Consumers should contact their insurance company in the first instance as they may need to authorise repair work or have a preferred tradesperson to undertake repairs.

Mr Dominello said there had also been reports today of scam callers and door-to-door spruikers purporting to be collecting money for the State Emergency Service through a raffle.

“The SES has made it clear that it does not operate raffles and would never raise funds in this way. These calls are bogus and consumers should not respond,” Mr Dominello said.

“We encourage anyone who receives visits or calls of this nature to report them to Fair Trading and ScamWatch. If you would like to donate to a particular charity, make contact with them directly through their official phone numbers or websites.

“It is particularly despicable for these cold-hearted people to try to take advantage of people in the wake of a natural disaster and I urge consumers to share this warning message with their friends and family to make sure no one gets stung.”

On average NSW Fair Trading receives around 1,200 reports on scams each year and consumers should report any activity they suspect is a scam to NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 and Scamwatch at www.scamwatch.gov.au.

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