Research and campaigns

National Consumer Week 2021

Every year National Consumer Week raises awareness of issues consumers are having across the country, and the protections and resources available to help people when they need it.

This year’s NCW is running from 6 – 12 December and we’re focusing on misleading environmental and energy efficiency claims, to make sure consumers can safely and confidently make green decisions.

It’s important that we take steps to be more environmentally friendly, like making our homes more energy efficient and installing energy technologies like solar panels.

It can save money in the long run, by using less energy.

It’s also good for the environment, and an important part of how we can meet our UK climate change target.

With an increasing emphasis on decarbonising the economy and meeting net zero targets, is something we’ll all have to think about over the coming years.

But it’s also important that people feel confident when they’re making these decisions.

That’s why we’re raising awareness of how people can protect themselves from misleading energy efficiency and environmental claims, such as “green scams” and rogue traders.

With our advice and support consumers can arm themselves with the knowledge and confidence they need to make the best decisions.

There are some misleading claims out there, so stay alert to things like scams, rogue traders and bad practices from companies. This includes:

  • Rogue traders trying to pressure you into signing a contract on the doorstep.
  • Being contacted by an unknown company and told that your insulation needs replacing, sometimes using scare tactics to add pressure.
  • Cold callers trying to convince you that you need additional technologies to make your energy home tech more efficient, but with little basis for their claims.
  • Traders incorrectly stating that they are ‘government backed’ or there are government grants available for consumers to convince them to get work done.

You should also watch out for scammers and rogue traders using news stories to exploit people. They can take advantage of any uncertainty, and will often pretend to be a genuine organisation.

An example is fraudsters using the problems in the energy market to scam people – for example pretending to be from a company offering to help people whose current energy supplier has gone out of business, in order to obtain personal details or payment.

3 steps to be a confident green consumer

1. Do your research:

  • Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews on different websites, ask for references, verify the company’s details using external sources, and read any terms and conditions.
  • If you’re getting home improvements done, make sure you get written quotes. Try to get them from at least 3 different contractors to help you decide if you’re getting a fair price.
  • When looking for a trader to use, check out certified schemes that recommend traders, like TrustMark – the Government’s endorsed quality scheme.

2. Take steps to protect yourself in case something goes wrong:

  • Always get a written contract before you give a contractor the go-ahead. If the contractor doesn’t do what you agreed, this can help you get what you paid for, or at least get some of your money back.
  • Pay with a secure method – credit cards offer the most protection, followed by PayPal or debit card.
  • If you’re paying for large home improvement works, see if you can pay in stages, and avoid paying for costs up-front where possible.
  • Be suspicious. Scammers and rogue traders can be very smart. Take your time to make sure you’re happy with your decision – if someone pressures you, it’s most likely a scam.

3. If you’re not sure about something, get more advice!

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