Scammers offering fake RAAC surveys to worried householders

Unqualified traders are cold calling households offering RAAC surveys, according to a leading consumer-protection organisation.

Katherine Hart, lead officer for doorstep crimes, scams and consumer vulnerability at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), told Construction News that she had seen an increase in people claiming to be experts on reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete turning up on doorsteps and charging hundreds of pounds to check properties.

She said: “It’s the usual thing where rogue traders have listened to a news story about unsafe schools and thought they might exploit it.”

RAAC scammers often claim to be transient traders offering checks for houses in the neighbourhood for one day only. Hart said that these fake surveyors tend to charge £250 for their services, although she noted that in more impoverished areas they often lower their prices to about £100.

She added that it was currently difficult to assess how many had fallen victim to the scam so far.

Hart also drew comparisons with a rise in fake mould surveyors, who have also targeted vulnerable householders this year.

The CTSI issued a warning in January after a rise in cold callers offering householders free mould surveys, charging a £50-£250 ‘admin fee’ and never returning. The calls increased in frequency following media attention around the death in December 2020 of a two-year-old boy, Awaab Ishak, who developed breathing problems after exposure to mould in his flat.

Hart said: “I think RAAC scams are going to get worse because of the public interest in the issue, particularly with continued disruption to schools.”

Because RAAC is a weak material and was commonly used in the same time period as asbestos, it is important that buildings with suspected RAAC hire a qualified surveyor. Otherwise building owners run the risk of causing more damage to the structure or contaminating the building with asbestos.

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