FLOOD-HIT communities are being warned to be vigilant of rogue traders and cowboy builders looking to exploit vulnerable people.

Communities across Herefordshire have begun the clean up after Storm Dennis brought widespread flooding to the county, but Herefordshire Council has said it's the perfect time for rogue traders to strike.

David Hough, Herefordshire Council's trading standards service manager, said: "We are worried that some of the more unscrupulous traders may try and take advantage of the victims of the recent flooding.

"This is an upsetting time for all those who have suffered damage to their homes, and we don't want anyone to be taken advantage of whilst in this vulnerable state.

"If your insurance company ask you to find traders yourself then make sure you do not deal with any cold callers, on the phone or at the door.

"In addition be very careful when choosing traders from online recommendations- rogue traders will often have numerous fake positive reviews.

"Use a builder who belongs to a reputable trade association and check they accept staged payments and the keeping back of a significant part of the cost until the repair job has been satisfactorily completed."

Anyone concerned about the activity of a trader, cold caller or doorstep seller should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.