TRADING standards bosses have issued advice on how to avoid dishonest tradesmen.

Nick McNamara, principal officer at Lancashire Trading Standards, said customers should always seek out recommendations and references before employing a roofer or builder.

Details can be found through the Help Direct Safe Trader Scheme, a free service run by Lancashire County Council.

Members of the scheme have shown they are committed to treating their customers honestly and fairly by signing up to a Code of Practice, while also agreeing to work with Trading Standards to resolve problems if they should occur.

Customers can make enquiries by calling 0303 333 1111 and also leave ratings and feedback on the website:

Lisa Howick, of the Confederation of Roofing Contractors (CRC), advised anyone employing a roofer to first check their membership with the CRC or National Federation of Roofing Contractors, and ask whether they have had any complaints against them.

Customers should also consider paying for an insurance back guarantee, which can be claimed in certain circumstances, such as when a roofing company ceases to trade once work has started, she added.