At least £659,000 has been handed over to cold callers offering to do garden clearances, tree cutting and work to roofs and gutters in the last year, according to Oxfordshire County Council.

The council is warning residents to be wary of cold callers or leaflets offering to do garden clearances, tree cutting and work to roofs and gutters.

The council's trading standards team is encouraging caution if anyone knocks and offers to start work immediately, particularly if they are pushy or claim that urgent repairs are required.

READ MORE: The Oxfordshire firm named and shamed by HMRC for thousands of pounds of unpaid tax

In the last year, the trading standards team saved or recovered over £220,000 for Oxfordshire scam victims, doorstep crime and other frauds.

However, trading standards are aware of at least £659,000 being handed over to such criminals.

Here are some tips from Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team:

  • If it is out of the blue, it’s not for you! Don’t agree to work from an unsolicited, cold call.
  • Be aware of ‘alarm bell’ tactics, claims such as – ‘I was working in the area and saw that your garden/roof needed urgent attention’; ‘we are working at one of your neighbours’ and we have some material left over’; ‘I can take you to the bank/cashpoint to get the money’.
  • Take five to stop fraud. Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. Trust your instincts.
  • If you want some work undertaken, get a number of detailed quotes in writing, including full contact details and a detailed breakdown of exactly what work will be done.
  • Be cautious about any requests for large deposits. For larger work, agree when staged payments will be paid and what work should be completed before any money is handed over. And stick to what is agreed.
  • Check with friends and family for trusted recommendations and consider a trading standards’ approved trader, from the Buy with Confidence scheme.
  • Consider learning more about how scams work and how you can protect yourself and others, by becoming a Friend Against Scam.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s head of Trading Standards, said: “Through intervening in doorstep crime incidents, working with partners such as the police and pursuing criminals through the courts, we have been able to save Oxfordshire residents a huge sum of money.

“However, we know that a much greater amount has sadly been lost, at a time when money is particularly tight. Such crimes can also lead to a sense of shame, embarrassment, and isolation, which offenders look to take advantage of."