Warm Weather Fraud Scams

Coreen, one of our Brentwood Community Police Volunteers,  has researched warm weather fraud scams.    It is a good read and we hope you can learn a few tips to avoid becoming a victim:  

Now that the warm weather is upon us, “springtime scams” are already starting to bloom in communities.  We generally like to relax during the warmer months of the year, but criminals are never on vacation.  Because more people are out and about, mowing their lawns, planting gardens, and painting their homes, they are easy targets for shady characters looking to make a fast dollar.  These rip-off artists usually go door-to-door offering a variety of home improvements and repairs from roof and chimney repair, gutter cleaning, roofing, driveway sealing, tree trimming, etc.  Take a little time to protect your property and valuables with these commonsense measures.

Home Improvement Scams
Home Improvement scams wear many faces, but most of them emulate, in some form, the “travelling handyman”.  A person knocks on a door, saying they’re doing other work in the neighbourhood or that they have leftover supplies from a different job.  They offer to do some work, take the money in advance, and are never seen again.  This is a common ploy of fly-by-night contractors who often use their pickup trucks as their places of business.  Of course, there are many variations on this theme, but they all have the same goal: to separate trusting homeowners from their money.

Complaints against home improvement/home repair contractors are among the most common consumer complaints received by Better Business Bureau.  They warn against hiring someone unless you know, without question, their permanent business address.  And that’s only the first question you should ask.  Reputable business people will have no problem answering your questions and supplying proof of who they are and their expertise.

Better Business Bureau receives a wide range of complaints, including high-pressure sales tactics, confusion over contract terms, poor workmanship, over-charging and incomplete job performance.

Tips for Avoiding Home Improvement Scams

  • Scrutinize anyone who might perform home improvement services for you—especially those who knock on your door and just happen to be in the neighborhood.
  • Always demand to see proof of their permanent business address, proper identification and appropriate licensing and insurance BEFORE letting anyone into your home.
  • Compare costs before making a financial commitment toward any home improvement project.
  • Work out the details of the amount of the payment, the payment schedule, and the scope of work (the details of what work is to be completed) before any money is exchanged and before work begins.  If you are asked to pay for the entire job up front, this should raise a red flag.  Arrange for payments to be made as parts of the job are completed (usually in thirds).  Final payment should not be due until the job is complete and you are satisfied with the work.  Homeowners should pay by check or credit card, never cash.
  • Get everything in writing. Asking for a written estimate might discourage a con-artist. Any reputable home improvement professional will understand that they are competing for your business and should be happy to give you a written estimate.  This is a great way to judge the differences in professionalism and cost.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Do your research through the use of free resources at your disposal – internet services, neighbours and references.  Never let a contractor pressure you into making a snap decision.  A reputable professional will recognize that you need time to consider many factors when deciding which contractor to hire.
  • Don’t fall for the high-pressure stories, such as “this offer is only good if you take it now” or “once we leave your street we won’t be able to give you such a bargain again”.

 

Tips for Avoiding Home Burglaries

If you’re out working in your garden or washing your vehicle:

  • Make sure you keep your doors locked.  Carry a key with you and lock your front door and your back door.  Some criminals specialize in stealing from homes when people are outside doing yard work.
  • When you finish with that yard work, remember to clean up and lock up behind you.  When you put your rake and other tools in the shed, garage or basement, don’t forget to lock the doors.  An open door is an invitation to a thief.  Deny criminals the opportunity to steal by securing your home and property.

And finally, if you do see anyone suspicious lurking around your neighborhood, call the Police and make them aware.  Enjoy all that Spring and Summer has to offer, but don’t be a victim of scams or fraud and don’t allow your home to become a target for burglars.

For more information and to view recent news and alerts, visit the Better Business Bureau website at:  http://vi.bbb.org/i-am-a-consumer/

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