HOUSEHOLDS in Essex are urged to be vigilant when having work done to their heating system to avoid falling victim to fraudsters.

The call comes as part of Scams Awareness 2019, a national campaign which aims to raise awareness of the types of fraud taking place and what people can do to protect themselves.

A survey using Crime and Fraud Statistics revealed more than 3,648 UK households fell victim to a scam last year, a 12 per cent increase from the previous year.

In response OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, has joined the Citizens Advice Scams Awareness campaign to provide households with guidance on how to ensure a technician they employ is professionally qualified.

The advice includes:

• ‘Look out for the badge’ - ask to see an official ID badge which proves their professional credentials and double check with their professional registration body

• Get multiple written quotes for the work and be cautious of saying yes to significantly cheaper options – this can sometimes be a warning sign

• Ask about previous work they have done, what types of heating systems they are qualified to service and check for online reviews and recommendations

• Keep a paper trail and make sure you double-check any agreements before signing

• If you have concerns, speak with a family member, friend or contact OFTEC (for oil heating) or GasSafe (for mains gas) for advice

Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, said: “As we start to use our heating less during the warmer summer months it’s a popular time to have the system serviced, replaced or upgraded.

"Many of the 23,000 oil heated homes in Essex will be looking for a technician to carry out this work but remember, it’s vital to ensure you hire a qualified professional to avoid potentially being left with a broken or unsafe system which is expensive to repair.

“It’s also important to look out for older and often more vulnerable relatives and friends, supporting them in any decision-making when contracting a professional and ensuring they are not harassed by repeat visits from unwanted callers as this can have a significant impact on their financial and emotional wellbeing.”

To find your nearest OFTEC registered technician, visit