A Harold Wood woman has been saved from losing £7,800 thanks to Havering Council’s Banking Protocol.

The cold-callers, from a roofing company, contacted an elderly lady and persuaded her to replace her guttering at a cost of £80. They then persuaded her to replace her roof and sign a contract for the work worth £7,800.

The lady, from Harold Wood, visited her local Halifax branch to withdraw the money but the staff were suspicious and stopped the transaction. They informed the police who attended the address with Havering Council Trading Standards and the work was stopped.

Although the company had started the work on the roof, they were asked to leave by police and will not receive any money because they had breached Trading Standards Regulations.

Councillor Osman Dervish, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, said:

“I am so pleased that the banking protocol has saved another resident from losing her hard earned cash.

“Residents are reminded that they should not sign contracts or agree to work being done with cold callers at their door. It’s always better to find a Buy With Confidence approved trader, even if the work seems urgent.”

An approved trader can be found on the Buy With Confidence website at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk

Acting Police Sergeant Charlie Routley, from Harold Wood Safer Neighbourhood Team, said:

“The quick thinking of the bank employee has saved this lady from a substantial financial loss. This is a prime example of the banking protocol in action. We will continue to work closely with Trading Standards to combat this breach of trust.

“Now the clocks have gone back and it’s getting darker earlier, we would urge members of the public to be extra vigilant. If you see anything suspicious or have been approached by anyone of similar circumstances, then contact your local police by dialling 101.” 

The banking protocol was the first multi-agency scheme of its kind and is a new way of working between the Council, local banks, the Metropolitan Police, Age Concern and the Havering Community and Police Consultative Group.

Council trading standards officers have trained staff from local banks in how to spot customers trying to withdraw suspiciously large sums of cash, which could be to pay off a rogue trader.

Under the protocol, bank workers are encouraged to tactfully make enquiries if they feel a withdrawal is suspicious. They should also notify the relevant agencies, such as the police and Council’s trading standards team, if they feel a rogue trader could be involved, delaying the withdrawal.