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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
Rogue traders cost billions
Shoppers on Oxford Street
Consumer groups say shoppers need to be protected
Consumer groups have called on the government to bring in new laws aimed at putting rogue traders out of business.

Rogue traders cost the public over 8bn a year, the Consumers' Association said, with trading standards departments receiving more than one million complaints a year.

The group has called for the Fair Trading and Trades Description act to be reformed, to speed up the process of banning rogue traders.

The Government had promised a wide-ranging bill, which would give consumer watchdogs more power. But it hasn't appeared on a provisional list of business to be included in the Queen's speech in November.

Under the Fair Trading Act, the Office of Fair Trading can apply for a court order, which calls for the trader to clean up their act or face closure.

Vulnerable consumers

But the consumer group says this process is slow and a big step for trading standard departments that want to deal with a small shop owner or market trader.

"It is an issue that effects almost everyone, but particularly the vulnerable and the old," Sheila McKechnie, director of the Consumers' Association told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"There needs to be proper codes of action enforced by the government," she added.

Earlier a CA spokesman said: "Current laws to deal with rogue traders are outdated, cumbersome and too slow to be effective."

A House of Commons inquiry in August criticised the Office of Fair Trading for failing to protect consumers.

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See also:

18 Apr 00 | Business
Is Britain being ripped off?
24 Jul 00 | UK
Rip-off traders evading law
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