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Loan refunds: 'Cowboy traders' cost Brits £3.7bn in the last five years

Consumers who have had loan refunds and spent the money on home improvements should make sure the tradesmen they hire are reputable.

This is because 'cowboy traders' have cost people in Britain £3.7 billion over the past five years, with homeowners having to fork out for repair work for botched jobs, research by Sainsbury's Finance has found.

Ben Tyte, head of Sainsbury's Home Insurance, offered some tips on researching tradesmen before committing to one.

He said: "Perhaps ask friends and family for recommendations or ask companies you're thinking of hiring for references.

"You should always contact at least three and ask for a written quote, this will give you confidence that you are paying the right amount for the job you need done. Always check for relevant qualifications and accreditations."

Findings revealed that of those people who used tradesmen in the last five years, only 36 per cent asked for a number of quotes before starting work, while just five per cent asked if they were accredited by TrustMark, the government endorsed standards agency.

Jennifer Haines

Jennifer's speciality knowledge is credit card changes and balance transfers.

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