Householders are being warned not to use cowboy builders or rogue traders to clear up damage from Storm Katie.
Essex County Council Trading Standards issued the advice after high winds swept through the county on Easter Monday bringing down fences and trees and damaging rooves.
Legitimate builders, plumbers, carpenters and other craftsmen will be working at full stretch and Trading Standards is concerned that dishonest traders will take advantage of the situation to rip off vulnerable residents.
Traders who knock on your door or only leave you a mobile number may not have a permanent address or be contactable if problems arise.
Trading Standards advise people to speak to their insurance companies before engaging anyone to carry out repair work and to approach businesses approved by the insurers.
In the case of flood damage, electricity and gas companies may be able to make free inspections and advise on safety work.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “It’s awful enough suffering storm damage, without being ripped off by a rogue trader. We recommend using one of our Buy with Confidence traders who have been audited and approved by Trading Standards.
“We would also advise residents to look out for vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who can easily fall victim to rogue trader tactics.”
You can find a Buy with Confidence trader or obtain advice and guidance by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or online at www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.