Suffolk Trading Standards warn over rogue solar panel workmen after elderly Lowestoft woman is targeted

Callers have reported being contacted by someone posing as an energy firm. Picture: MARCO PIUNTI/THI

Callers have reported being contacted by someone posing as an energy firm. Picture: MARCO PIUNTI/THINKSTOCK - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Suffolk Trading Standards has issued a warning to people who own solar panels following reports of callers posing as energy companies stating urgent repairs are needed.

Since the start of the year, the enforcement service has reported a large number of complaints from residents countywide that they had been contacted by someone claiming to be from an energy company stating that they can check their systems for free or save money.

Last month, two elderly residents were contacted by such companies, convincing them that they and their properties were at risk.

One victim, in Lowestoft, was told the lid to her water tank was loose, which then ran the risk of overflowing onto the electrics in the house, and electrocuting her. The resident was told they would need to pay the company £7,500 up front in cash, and that work would need to start as soon as possible. The victim went straight to the bank to withdraw the money, but fortunately the bank staff contacted Suffolk Trading Standards before any money was passed over.

The second victim, from Ipswich, was told their solar panels needed to be serviced. When the trader took a look at the panels, they informed the victim that the company that had fitted them had gone out of business and that the installation was dangerous, as a power save unit had not been installed, creating a fire risk to their property. They were told the repair would cost £3,295 and the victim paid a deposit of £800. The trader has not yet returned to carry out the work and despite the victim trying to cancel the work, they have not yet received a refund.

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Suffolk Trading Standards is offering advice to consumers to ensure they do not fall victim to such companies and traders.

Graham Crisp, Joint Head of Trading Standards, said: 'Consumers should never sign on the spot and should also check to see if the salesperson's identity is genuine. People should also be wary of special offers or warnings about your home – while it may sound worrying, if it is coming from someone who has just knocked on your door, caution should be taken.'

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If you have any concerns about a trader, call Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

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