Victims of unscrupulous rogue traders will now have greater powers to challenge them and get their money back, under new rights which have come into force.
Consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson has announced that people who are bullied or misled into buying services or goods they don't want or need will have up to 90 days to take legal action against the trader and get their money back.
The regulations will help those harassed into home improvements by door-to-door salesmen, for example, or teenagers who are misled into paying hundreds of pounds by the promise of a modelling career.
It is hoped the changes will also be of particular benefit to pensioners and vulnerable people. Figures from the National Audit Office show that those aged 55 and over lose an average of £1,100 when they are victims of rogue traders, while Action Fraud estimate that consumers lose at least £6.6 billion a year due to rogue traders.
As well as the 90-day period to cancel a contract, consumers will also have the right to seek damages for any additional losses or stress they have suffered as a result of the actions of the trader, and be able to take action in the civil court for misleading or aggressive demands for payment.
Swinson explained: "The vast majority of businesses treat consumers fairly and provide a great service. However, a few bad apples have damaged the reputation of good business, broken the law and treated customers as a cash cow.
"This is why we are providing consumers with new powers to challenge rogue businesses and giving people the confidence to take action when they have been bullied or misled."
Gillian Guy chief executive of Citizens Advice added: "Dishonest and aggressive salespeople are ripping off innocent consumers. In the last year alone, the Citizens Advice consumer service helped with 85,000 problems caused by misleading claims and shoddy sales practices.
"It's good for consumers that, under the new protections, people in these circumstances will now be able to cancel contracts or get money back."