Tree Loppers Attempting To Take Advantage Of Storm Victims

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning residents affected by the severe storms in the Blue Mountains and Sydney’s west to watch out for scammers offering tree lopping services.

“We are receiving reports of a group of tradesmen asking for money to assist consumers and telling them they will be reimbursed by the State Emergency Service or insurance companies for work done,” Mr Stowe said.

“The SES has confirmed this is a scam. They have not engaged any contractors to undertake work on behalf of the agency, and they have also notified NSW Police of these reports.

“Tradesmen misrepresenting themselves at a time of high stress for residents is unacceptable conduct and NSW Fair Trading investigators will seek to identify those involved.”

“This type of misleading and deceptive conduct may constitute an offence under the Australian Consumer Law."

Mr Stowe said storms that cause significant property damage are often soon followed by scammers, taking advantage of consumer vulnerability.

“Avoid cold calling and unlicensed repairers,” he said. “Only use a licensed building contractor for work valued at more than $5000.

“Electrical or plumbing work can only all be undertaken by a licensed contract irrespective of the value of the work to be performed. Trade licences may be checked online at the Fair Trading website or call 13 32 20. If you are approached by unlicensed tradespeople, report it immediately to Fair Trading.

“Home owners with building insurance should check with their insurer before authorising any building repairs as insurers often require work to be performed by their own preferred builders.”

Fair Trading can help storm victims by:

  • providing information on how to choose suitable tradespeople to carry out repairs 
  • providing information about deposits and contracts 
  • advising people in rented accommodation and their landlords about their rights and obligations 
  • providing referrals to other service providers, including legal and financial specialists.