People are being warned to not let cold-callers into their homes who are claiming to offer "free" surveys to check for toxic mould.

Trading standards teams say they have received reports of scammers targeting deprived areas.

There have been cases where fraudsters have used pressure tactics to trick people into paying an 'admin fee' of between £50 and £250, which they claimed was necessary to secure a Government energy-efficiency grant.

After that, they then failed to return to carry out the work, and victims were unable to contact them to get their money back.

East Lothian Courier: Some fraudsters are pressuring people into paying 'admin fees' of up to £250 to check for mouldSome fraudsters are pressuring people into paying 'admin fees' of up to £250 to check for mould

In other cases, the scammers have gone on to carry out work including installing spray foam insulation, which they claim has “mould-killing qualities”.

They have charged excessive amounts – often several thousands of pounds – for poor quality and unnecessary work, which in some cases has been found to affect the mortgage-ability of the property.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) chief executive John Herriman said: “As people worry about their energy bills during the cost-of-living crisis, many are cutting back on heating, which can lead to problems with damp and condensation.

“By cashing in on people’s legitimate concerns about mould and energy efficiency, scammers continue to plumb the depths of cynicism. They are exploiting elderly residents, parents, and anybody they think they can trick into handing over money under false pretences.

“Trading standards will continue to work to ensure that front doors will always remain closed to scammers, and those responsible for scams are brought to justice.”

The CTSI’s lead officer for doorstep crime, Katherine Hart, said: “Don’t engage with anyone at the door, and never invite a cold-caller into your home.

“If you are thinking about installing energy-efficiency or anti-damp measures in your home, make sure you check that the company you use is fully accredited and you know where to reach them if you need to.

“Similarly, never respond to offers of home repair work you receive via text or phone – in most cases these are sent by scammers seeking to steal money or personal details.”

Why are these mould scams happening?

Reports of these scams have been in the wake of widespread media coverage of the inquest into the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in December 2020.

He died from a respiratory condition caused by mould in a one-bedroom housing association flat in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

It was announced in December that every housing association property will be checked for issues such as dampness and mould and have any problems fixed.