Scams and Unfair Trading

Have you been affected by a scam or felt unfairly treated by a trader?

As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true then it usually is. Some traders have no compunction about resorting to unfair practices, or downright deception in order to part you from your money. Citizens Advice Bureaux and Trading Standards departments see many cases of dodgy dealing. These are some of the things to look out for.

Job Training Scams

Many people finding themselves out of work look towards training to improve their chances of employment. It can be expensive but people often feel it's worth the investment - as long as they get the training they are paying for, that is. That certainly wasn't the case for a recent client at the CAB, who signed up for an HGV driving course. Contrary to what he had been promised, the course was being held in another part of the country - further than it was practical for him to travel. Despite misleading him, the company refused to refund his money.

It's always worthwhile getting feedback from other customers before you part with any money. You can ask friends or family, or check online. In this case the owner of the company had already been prosecuted for a similar scam under a previous company name.

Roof Treatments

You wouldn't be happy if you parted with your hard-earned money for a wonderful new roof treatment, only for a builder to turn up and spray your house with water. But that's basically what has happened to the many people who have been sold roof treatments that promised to 'insulate and protect', but turned out to be a basic silicon spray that offered very little benefit.

Counterfeit Goods

Obtaining cheap versions of popular brands might seem like a good thing, but usually counterfeit goods are substandard and often dangerous. Toys, for instance, frequently don't meet safety standards, and counterfeit alcohol can contain dangerous chemicals. To avoid getting conned, look out for misspelt labels or missing warnings. And if you're buying goods away from usual retail premises, there's a high likelihood that you're buying fakes.

Money Advice Scam

There are many companies springing up who offer advice to people experiencing financial difficulties, or help to set up payment plans. Sadly, some of them are designed to prey on people who are already finding it difficult to make ends meet. They may ask for fees up front and then disappear with your money. Remember free help and advice can be found at your local CAB.

How to spot a scam


Unfair Trading

Sometimes it's not just con artists who engage in questionable practices. Even established traders sometimes use unfair techniques to pressure you into making a purchase. Since 2008 a number of previously common sales techniques have been illegal. These include:

If you suspect you've been scammed or have been treated unfairly by a trader, you can get help from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

You can report your Scam and find out about others at


Discrimination in goods and services