Bogus Green Deal assessors scam consumersWhich? advises how to avoid a Green Deal scam

21 May 2013

Handing over money

Consumers should be wary of unscrupulous traders

The Trading Standards Institute has received complaints about fraudsters posing as Green Deal assessors, scamming money from consumers. 

The Green Deal is a new way to pay for energy-saving home improvements including loft, cavity or solid-wall insulation; double glazing; a new boiler or even a microgeneration system, such as solar panels.

18,816 Green Deal assessments have already been carried out between the end of January, when the scheme launched, and the end of April.

Green Deal assessment

If you're interested in a Green Deal loan you will first need to arrange a visit from an assessor. But consumers should be cautious, as Trading Standards officers have received reports of bogus assessors taking never-to-be seen-again 'administration fees.'

The Trading Standards Institute told Which? that most of the complaints appear to be in South Wales, but it's looking into whether this is common across the UK.

If you experience any fraudulent Green Deal salespeople, you can contact Citizens Advice on 0845 404 0506, and they will report the problem to Trading Standards.

Green Deal Code of practice

Each Green Deal Provider is required to pass a 'fitness test' before they can be registered. Once registered, both providers and assessors must follow a code of practice, which is designed to ensure that they operate fairly and transparently, protecting consumers against aggressive selling techniques and traders that mislead. 

There is also clear process for dealing with complaints, which includes a designated independent Green Deal Ombudsman. 

Grean Deal Scam protection

You can take the following steps to protect yourself from potential scammers:

  • Check the caller's credentials. All authorised Green Deal companies must carry the quality mark and have a unique identification number. You can check the company is authorised and listed by visiting the Oversight and Registration Body website.
  • Ring the Energy Saving Advice Service (0300 123 1234) if you have any doubts about whether the trader is genuine. 
  • Don't hand over money on the door step and don't commit to anything until you're sure that the company is reputable.

Avoid falling for scams by asking yourself the seven simple questions below. If you answer yes to any of the following, there's a good chance it's a scam.

  1. Were you contacted out of the blue? (although door-to-door sales are permitted under Green Deal legislation).
  2. Does the deal seem to be too good to be true?
  3. Have you been asked to pass on any personal or financial details, or pay an upfront fee?
  4. Are you under pressure to respond quickly?
  5. Are the contact details vague, such as a PO box, premium-rate number (starting ‘09’) or mobile number?
  6. Does any of the correspondence you receive contain glaring grammatical or spelling mistakes?
  7. Are you requested to keep the matter confidential?

More on this...