Travelling con men

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About travelling con men

Travelling con men are dodgy tradesmen who knock on doors of homes and small businesses, offering to do maintenance work.

They 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.

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.

Travelling con men 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 video - Thelma's story

Thelma lost over $4,000 to travelling con men after she hired them to fix her roof. 

Video transcript: Travelling con men - Thelma's story (Word, 83KB)

What to 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.

Tips to protect yourself

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, 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's 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 more information, view our Clean up, repairs and re-building page.

For updates on the location of travelling con men, follow us on:

Report travelling con men in your area

If you know of travelling con men in your area:

  • record as much information as you can, such as their name and vehicle registration
  • report them to the national travelling con men hotline on 1300 133 408 between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
  • report them to your local police.

Resources for community groups

To find information about travelling con men in 23 languages, view our Other languages section.

Our regional offices can organise information sessions for your community group on travelling con men and other scams. View our office locations on our Contact us page.

You can also share our material with your group.

Watch our travelling con men videos on YouTube

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