UK Households are urged to be vigilant when having work done to their heating system to avoid falling victim to non-qualified technicians or dishonest pricing tactics.
The call comes at the start of Scams Awareness 2019 (10-23 June), a national campaign which aims to raise awareness of the types of fraud taking place and what individuals and families can do to protect themselves.
A recent survey revealed that over 3,648 UK households fell victim to a scam in 2018, a 12% increase from the previous year*. The most common scams included bank and credit card, consumer and retail fraud.
In response OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, has joined the Citizens Advice Scams Awareness campaign to provide local households with guidance on how to ensure a technician they employ is professionally qualified.
The advice includes:
- 'Look out for the badge' - ask to see an official ID badge which proves their professional credentials and double check with their professional registration body
- Get multiple written quotes for the work and be cautious of saying yes to significantly cheaper options – this can sometimes be a warning sign
- Ask about previous work they have done, what types of heating systems they are qualified to service and check for online reviews and recommendations
- Keep a paper trail and make sure you double-check any agreements before signing
- If you have concerns, speak with a family member, friend or contact OFTEC (for oil heating) or GasSafe (for mains gas) for advice
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC commented: "As we start to use our heating less during the warmer summer months it's a popular time to have the system serviced, replaced or upgraded. Many of the oil heated homes in the UK will be looking for a technician to carry out this work but remember, it's vital to ensure you hire a qualified professional to avoid potentially being left with a broken or unsafe system which is expensive to repair."
Households looking to employ a technician are advised to use a GasSafe (for mains gas) or OFTEC (for heating oil or solid fuel) registered technician who has demonstrated their competence and undergone industry recognised training to ensure the work is completed safely and to a high standard.
"It's also important to look out for older and often more vulnerable relatives and friends, supporting them in any decision-making when contracting a professional and ensuring they are not harassed by repeat visits from unwanted callers as this can have a significant impact on their financial and emotional wellbeing."
To find your nearest OFTEC registered technician, visit www.oftec.org.
*Crime and Fraud Statistics (December 2018)