Innocent British homeowners are being scammed out of thousands of pounds a year by rogue waste collectors according to a survey from British Waste.
With more people taking on home improvement projects, or finally clearing out old furniture while stuck in lockdown, it’s provided more opportunity for scam collectors to target unsuspecting households.
And criminals have taken advantage.
In 2020, more than 600 rubbish removal jobs involved a scam.
And British Waste’s survey revealed customers were ripped off by an average of £300 per job.
If you have concerns about getting scammed by rubbish collection services, here’s a few key things to look out for.
What to look out for in a scam rubbish removal
It’s all well and good saying you should avoid scams when it comes to rubbish removal.
But how do you spot the real from the fake?
- The company van or truck
The first thing to look out for is any branding on the van that turns up.
If the van or truck doesn’t have any contact details or a brand name across the side, you can assume it’s not a legitimate or professional rubbish removals business.
- Do they offer proof of payment?
When a business asks for you to pay in cash and given no receipt, it should ring alarm bells.
This can indicate they have no records of their services or payments given to them.
- Are they online?
To be recognised as a reputable business, their website needs to include company registration details.
If all they have is contact details, they might not be officially registered as a business.
- Do they have a valid licence?
Waste removal services must have a waste carrier licence.
This allows businesses to buy, sell and/or transport waste.
- Have you looked at online reviews?
If you have concerns about a service, have a look at online reviews to see what previous customers have said about them.
This way you can work out whether they’re a reliable business you can trust or not.
All of these things could signal illegal and unethical disposal of rubbish.
If a company takes your rubbish away cheaply, it’ll probably end up being fly-tipped.
The consequences of scam collections
There are many consequences to scam rubbish collections.
The main one is that it’s expensive to deal with.
If a removal service dumps the waste in an unauthorised area, it can be very expensive to clear up.
You could also be held liable for the damage done and have to pay to fix it, as Duty of Care Regulations require all households to dispose of their waste properly.
It’s your responsibility to provide proof of using a service.
If you can’t provide this, then you could be fined up to £5000 and end up with a criminal record.
As mentioned above, scam collections doesn’t just mean poor quality services, it also means customers being overcharged.
In the British Waste survey, a customer of a scam waste collection company came forward saying he was charged £1,300 for removing confidential work waste, even though he was quoted just £200.
He was then shocked to find that all the paperwork had been left in his neighbours garden.
This is really dangerous, as who knows what can happen if private information gets into the wrong hands.
Could you face a fine if your rubbish is dumped illegally?
Dumping rubbish illegally is taken very seriously in the UK, and you can be fined if you get caught doing so.
Local councils have made fly-tipping illegal, meaning they’re able to issue fines or prison sentences for the improper disposal of waste.
In the UK, the current fine for fly-tipping is £400 if paid within 14 days.
Failure to pay will result in further action in the form of a £50,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment.
This is because it can cost the government millions of pounds to clean up and dispose of correctly.
Take care to find a legit rubbish removal service
Although these services exist, it’s important you know how to protect yourself from potential scammers.
Be vigilant when it comes to waste removal services, in terms of how professional they come across and their online presence.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when it comes to their legitimacy, including details of their waste carrying registration.
Make sure you can get a copy of a receipt for the service.
As we mentioned above, if you don’t have any record of using the business, you could be liable for any damage caused and end up being fined thousands of pounds.
If you want your household rubbish cleared in an ethical and environmentally friendly way, get in touch with Litta and we’ll be able to arrange a quick collection with you.