Many homeowners are unaware they could be fined up to £5,000 if fly-tipped rubbish is discovered to be theirs – even if they paid a removal service to take it away for them. Legally, as the homeowner, you’re responsible for ensuring your rubbish is disposed of properly, including making sure you hire a reputable, legitimate waste removal company to take your waste away.
But this can be difficult given the epidemic of rogue waste collectors who are scamming unsuspecting households by advertising as legitimate companies, only to dump any waste they collect. As well as facing thousands in fines, homeowners are being scammed hundreds of pounds by these illegal collections.
So what can you do to protect yourself from a rogue collection and the possibility of a fine. There are a few things you can do to increase the chances of spotting a scam collection.
Here’s the key signs your waste removal company isn’t legitimate.
There’s no signage on the removal van
Most scam collection services use plain vans when collecting your rubbish. If a van turns up with no company signage or key details like a company name, landline, website or registration number missing, there’s a good chance they’re a rogue collector and you shouldn’t let them take your waste away.
The best thing to do is report them to the Environment Agency or CrimeStoppers (we’ve put their contact details below). Any legitimate waste removal service will have some kind of recognisable company information.
Your collection service asks for cash as payment
Most waste removal companies will expect you to pay for your collection upfront based on a quote they provide when you book the service. If your waste collector shows up and asks you to pay with cash, especially if they don’t offer a receipt, then you should be extremely cautious about going ahead with the removal.
The reason these fake services ask for cash is because it makes it impossible to trace them once they’ve taken your waste away. This leaves you vulnerable to any fines if they dump your waste illegally after taking it away.
You can’t find any trace of the company online
Rogue waste removal services get much of their business advertising locally or dropping leaflets through doors. But any legitimate waste collection service will be findable online. Whether it’s through a website, or at least through a business directory where their company registration number will be provided.
If you’re responding to a local ad or a leaflet drop, do some research into the company to see if you can find any more information about them online and – ideally – any references or customer testimonials.
Check their company registration number against Companies House or their waste disposal licence number with the Environment Agency. If you can’t find anything about them, there’s a good chance they’re not legitimate.
What to look for on a waste removal advert
On the topic of fake ads for removal services. While many rogue collections will place ads for their services in the local press or through your door, you can usually assess whether they’re a legitimate company or a fake.
For example, it should contain the companies registration number and even their licence number to remove your waste so you can check. It should also have a registered company address and phone number (ideally a landline) as well as a URL for the company website.
If the advert simply contains a mobile number, you should be wary.
They’ve significantly undercut all the competition
Waste removal isn’t expensive if you choose the right provider, but when you’re getting quotes, you’ll find they’re all within the same price range. Maybe there’ll be a few pounds in it.
But rogue collectors attract customers by offering significantly cheaper rates than anyone else. What they’re counting on is a customer won’t get more than one quote and, because they’re not likely to know the going rate for a real waste removal service, they’ll go with whichever service is cheapest.
Do some research and get a few quotes, and if one is way below the rest, beware it could be a rogue collection.
Always check you’re using a legitimate waste removal company
Fly-tipping is a huge problem in the UK, costing councils tens of thousands a year to clean up illegal waste and dumping sites.
As a homeowner looking to dispose of home or garden waste, you have a responsibility to ensure you’re hiring a legitimate waste disposal company.
While many scam collections can be difficult to uncover, with a bit of research and the guidance we’ve given here you should stand a better chance of identifying the fake services when they’re advertised.
If you’re suspicious about the legitimacy of a waste collection service you or a neighbour are using you can report them to the Environment Agency Incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Or you can fill out an anonymous online Crimestoppers form – https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information-online/
They can offer same day collections and can collect items directly from your home or garden.
Plus, they recycle 93% of the waste they collect.