On this page:
Who are travelling con men?
Travelling con men are dodgy tradesmen who knock on doors of homes and small businesses, offering to do maintenance work.
They appear more frequently during warmer weather and after natural disasters, such as floods, fires and storms, when vulnerable people are cleaning up or repairing their properties.
Travelling con men offer to do jobs such as driveway resurfacing, painting, roof repairs and carpet cleaning at a cheap rate. Often, they pressure people, offering 'today only' specials.
Why should you avoid them?
Travelling con men ask for cash before starting work and frequently disappear as soon as you pay them.
If they do any work, it is often unfinished or of a poor standard.
They move quickly and usually only give a first name and mobile number - so contacting them afterwards is difficult.
What should you look out for?
Be suspicious of people who:
- knock on your door unexpectedly, offering to:
- paint the house
- work on your garden or cut trees
- resurface driveways
- fix your roof
- offer cheap deals using words like 'for today only'
- ask for cash up front
- offer to drive you to the bank to get money to pay for the job
- pressure you to accept their offer
- say they can do the job now as another nearby has just cancelled.
Protecting yourself - tips to dealing with travelling con men
If you suspect a travelling con man is knocking, do not answer.
If you do speak to them, ask them to leave. If they refuse to leave, they are breaking the law.
If you want work done on your house:
- shop around for the quote that is right for you
- use established tradespeople who provide written quotes
- ask for contact details of previous clients, so you can check references
- do not sign any agreement until you are ready
- ask for the tradesman's full name and registration or licence details (if applicable) so you can check these with their industry authority
- ask for the business' number, so you can call to confirm whether the tradesman works for them.
Particularly after disasters, be wary of anyone offering you a 'today only' deal to carry out repairs for cash. For advice in a disaster, view our Advice in a disaster page.
Taking action against travelling con men
To help us warn your community about these dodgy dealers, please post links to this page on social media and forums. If you know of travelling con men in your area:
- record as much information as you can, such as their name and vehicle registration
- call the national travelling con men hotline (1300 133 408) between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
- report them to your local police
- tweet using the Twitter hashtag #stopconmen. Follow us on Twitter at @consumervic or our Facebook page for updates on the location of travelling con men
- post on the Stop Travelling Con Men national Facebook page.
Doreen from Victoria lost thousands of dollars to travelling con men. Hear her story:
Video transcript: Doreen's story (Word, 32KB)