Victorians alerted to small business con

Small businesses and consumers should watch out for con men stealing real businesses’ identities to rip off Victorians.

Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Claire Noone said con men were using a Queensland roofing business’ identity to lull Victorian homeowners into a false sense of security.

“Both Consumer Affairs Victoria and the business, Strongguard Roofing and Guttering, have received reports of this activity. Strongguard has posted a warning on its website to alert potential customers,” said Dr Noone.

“These con men knock on doors to spruik for roofing work, telling homeowners to check Strongguard’s website to establish their credentials – when in fact, they do not represent the business at all.

“If they do any work, it’s likely to be shoddy and unfinished.”

Strongguard Company Director Warren Hebbard said he was angered to discover the company name was being used by con men.

“In one case, we were told that homeowners in one street were approached by a crew of about eight con men pretending to be from our company,” said Mr Hebbard.

“In no way are these con men in Victoria associated with our business.’’

Dr Noone said travelling con men door-knock with offers of cheap, ‘today only’ deals on jobs such as painting, roof repairs and sealing bitumen driveways.

They pressure householders to say yes and pay up front, then often perform shoddy work or leave the job unfinished.

“If someone knocks on your door, check their credentials,” Dr Noone said.

“Look up the business’ contact details – don’t use the details the person provides – and call the business to ask if the person at your door represents the company.

“Small businesses that receive complaints or other indications that con men are using their identity should contact Consumer Affairs Victoria or another fair trading regulator.

“There is a very real risk to your business’ reputation. Reports provide valuable intelligence to help us warn the community and stop con men.”

If you decide you need work done on your house, you should:

  • shop around for the quote that is right for you
  • only use established tradespeople who provide written quotes and have required qualifications
  • ask for contact details of previous clients for references
  • do not sign any agreement until you are ready.