It's that time of the year again. The birds are chirping, the flowers are budding, and the scam artists are pounding the pavement and ringing the doorbells' looking for their next victim. Unfortunately, no one seems to be immune from this underhanded activity.
No matter how much you hate repainting the garage, blackening your driveway, or cleaning your gutters, don't fall for a fast-talking swindler promising to shoulder your home maintenance burdens for a very affordable fee. If sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming the latest scam victim in your neighborhood.
1. Know Who You're Dealing With
Some scams are so obvious that a blindfolded dimwit could spot them. The guy driving the "alleged"Â company van with no company markings on it. The fellow whose business card offers no address or phone number. These are prime examples of who not to trust.
But what about the somewhat more intelligent scammer's the one who drives a convincing vehicle and presents you with a seemingly authentic business card? Should you trust them? The answer is "no."Â Not until you've done some homework!
Here are a few things that you need to do to make sure that you aren't being duped.
- Check with your municipality and/or state to make sure that the company is licensed to do the work that they offering.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau to make sure that they don't have a bevy of complaints filed against them.
- Ask your friends and neighbours if they have used the company in question and if they were pleased with the work.
- Ask the company representative for references from people who were satisfied with their work. This should weed out some of the scam artists, but don't rely on these referrals alone. Use them in tandem with the above steps.
2. Keep Your Wallet Closed
Scam artists want your money now. And they'll sweet talk you and promise you the moon to get it. Never give in to pressure to "close the deal, right away" no matter how attractive the offer sounds. Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it likely isn't true.
Here are a few of the tactics that a swindler will use to pry the cash out of your pocket.
- Someone has arrived at your door specifically to offer you a limited-time offer. Before they have a chance to utter another word, say "no thank you"Â and close the door. Then lock it. Legitimate companies will give you time to think before you commit.
- A person shows up at your door stating that they have just completed a job down the street and have some extra materials left over. They are going to offer you a great deal on either some work or on the materials themselves. Again, retreat into your house and turn the deadbolt. Otherwise, you will likely be the victim of shoddy work or you'll have a supply of damaged material's the stuff that fell out of the truck, perhap's to take to the dump.
- The guy at the door needs you to accept this great deal right away, robbing you of the opportunity to check out his company's background or seek quotes from the competition. Never succumb to pressure tactics.
3. Beware of The Driveway Guy
Driveway scams are becoming increasingly common. One of the most popular ways to dupe homeowners out of their hard-earned cash is to offer to re-coat their lane-way for a highly competitive price.
The individual applies something black a mystery concoction to the asphalt, tells the homeowner not to drive on it for a couple of days, and disappears. The victim is left with a driveway that still needs to be re-surfaced and a sizable dent in his billfold.
So, the next time you find a strange person at your door offering you a home improvement deal — landscape work, gutter replacement, roof repairs — stand your ground and firmly tell them that their services are not needed. In fact, you probably shouldn't be opening your door for strange people in the first place. What were you thinking?
How do you spot a home improvement scammer?