Scammers take advantage of rising energy bills to mislead consumers about loft insulation
Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) has warned Scottish homeowners not to engage with cold callers who offer to conduct a free survey of their loft.
Several complaints have been received from people who agreed to have a survey carried out, only to discover that the ‘surveyors’ were in fact salespeople who tried to pressure them into buying spray foam insulation.
In many cases, the addition of spray foam insulation to loft spaces can affect the mortgageability of a house, as a surveyor may not be able to conduct proper checks of the roof.
The salespeople often provide homeowners with misleading information about the safety of their loft and roof, telling them that they have found dampness or mould and that the most cost-effective way to ensure the safety of their home is to install spray foam insulation, usually at a cost of thousands of pounds.
In fact, issues with dampness and mould can frequently be solved using much cheaper methods, such as installing vents.
One couple from the Borders recently received a cold call offering a free roof survey – the caller claimed to be working alongside Home Energy Scotland and told them that an inspection would be required to ensure their eligibility for any government grants.
They agreed to have a survey carried out and were told that toxic mould had been found in their loft. The ‘engineer’, who was actually a salesperson, stayed in their home for almost four hours, detailing the dangers linked to the mould and persuading them that spray foam insulation was the best solution. They eventually agreed to purchase the insulation and paid over £5,000 to have it installed.
A couple of months later, they looked into re-mortgaging their home so that they could pay for their son’s college fees. An equity release company refused to provide them with a mortgage due to the spray foam insulation.
Fiona Richardson, Chief Officer of Trading Standards Scotland, said:
“Dishonest traders and companies are attempting to exploit the cost of living crisis and are targeting those who want to make their homes more energy efficient, providing misleading information about products and implying that funding or grants are available for their products.
“We strongly advise homeowners to consult with a mortgage advisor who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority before having spray foam insulation installed.
“Don’t engage with cold callers offering ‘free’ loft or roof surveys and never accept information offered from these sources without doing independent research, particularly if they tell you that there are grants or funding schemes available.
“Before agreeing to have any work done, have an impartial assessment carried out on your home to find out which energy efficiency measures will actually be beneficial to your property. Don’t agree to get an assessment done by a company who cold calls you – they will not be impartial.
“We would also ask people to look out for family members, friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable and to report any suspicious behaviour to Police Scotland.”
Home Energy Scotland are funded by the Scottish Government to provide free and impartial advice about insulation and other energy efficiency measures. They never cold call consumers. Consumers should call their free helpline on 0808 808 2282 or visit https://www.homeenergyscotland.org/ to find legitimate information about local funding or to arrange to have an impartial assessment of their home carried out.