South Tyneside Council is reminding residents to stay on their guard to help prevent them falling victim to rogue traders.
Local people are also being urged to be cautious when agreeing to buy goods or services from doorstep callers.
It comes following a recent incident in Whitburn, in which a householder was cold called and quoted £35 for minor roof repairs. The fee quickly escalated to a bill of more than £500 for further repair work which was later considered to be substandard.
Many rogue traders do not provide any of the legally required paperwork on 'cooling off' periods, or may demand payment up front, then fail to carry out or complete the work. Often residents do not realise they have been duped until it is too late.
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "We know that most tradesmen and salespeople who knock at people's homes are genuine, but it can be distressing for residents, particularly the elderly or vulnerable when they turn up unannounced.
"Unscrupulous traders often try to sell goods or services without a prior appointment putting householders under pressure to part with their money for services that may be unnecessary.
"They will also mislead residents as to the extent of the work, overcharge for a simple repair or demand money for work either not completed or carried out at a poor standard.
"We would encourage residents not to commit to any work on their doorstep and seek quotes from other tradespeople. A reputable trader will not mind leaving a quote and giving a person time to give it consideration."
The Council is reminding residents that it maintains a Safetraders list which contains details of local companies who have agreed to abide by a code of practice to ensure they trade fairly.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing and Whitburn and Marsden ward member, said: "The feeling of being scammed can have a devastating impact on a person's health and wellbeing, especially those who may be vulnerable or socially isolated.
"Not only do those affected lose their money, but their confidence can take a hit. In some cases the feeling of being cheated can also lead to them developing issues such as anxiety and depression.
"We would advise residents to stay alert and beware of doorstep traders touting for businesses. Anyone who feels they may have been the victim of a scam is urged to report it."
Residents can help to protect themselves from doorstep scams with the following tips:
Use a door chain when checking who is calling;
Don't trade on the doorstep. Say 'no thank you' to unwanted, uninvited callers;
Don't feel pressured into making a decision.
Ask a trusted friend or family member for advice on reputable traders;
Display a 'no cold calling' sticker outside the door;
Always report any suspicious activity.
To report a doorstep incident, contact the Citizens' Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
For further information about the work of South Tyneside Trading Standards Team, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/tradingstandards The Team can be contacted on (0191) 424 7887.
The South Tyneside Safetraders Scheme is operated in partnership with the Business Approval Register. For details of local businesses which are members of the scheme, www.businessapprovalregister.com