Rogue traders are likely to cash in on last week’s storms by targeting people with damaged buildings or fallen trees, Trading Standards have warned.

Cold callers may knock on doors claiming to be tree surgeons or roofers, in an attempt to con people into paying them to carry out urgent work – even if no work is needed.

Anyone whose property has been damaged by the storm is urged to speak to their insurance company before agreeing to have any work done. The company is likely to have a list of approved traders and may want to instruct them to undertake any necessary repairs.

Paul Thomas from the Heart of the South West Trading Standards, which covers Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, said:

“We know from previous storms that rogue traders will try to take advantage.

“These people target the vulnerable and elderly. They might knock on your door and say a branch is damaged or a tile is loose and is dangerous – ignore them.

“If someone on the doorstep, or through an unsolicited telephone call, tells you that your property needs repairs or maintenance of any kind, be suspicious.

“If you need work done use a trusted source or visit a website like BuyWithConfidence to find a reputable trader and try to get at least three quotes for work.”

Other advice from Trading Standards includes asking friends and family for recommendations for trustworthy traders, and making sure you know the trader’s name and address, in case you need to contact them again after the work is done. It is usually easier to arrange a repair or refund with a local trader.

Residents can report rogue traders or get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 2231133.