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Beware of Home Improvement Scams

Beware of Home Improvement Scams

Aug 30, 2013

Recent articles in Angie’s List monthly magazine and in Parade magazine reminded me of how easy it is for con artists to convince homeowners that exterior work is needed on their home.  In fact, a recent article noted that roofing scam complaints were up 60% with the Better Business Bureau.

Here is what could happen:  you get a knock on your door from a person(s) who just happened to be “working” in the neighborhood and noticed that either your siding is defective, your windows will leak when it rains, your roof is in danger of collapsing and your chimney is ready to topple over.  Your job is to politely refuse entrance to your home and tell them that you will contact your general contractor to have it checked out.

Under no circumstances should you allow a door-to-door solicitor into your home.  His job is to alarm you into giving him money to fix these items at a reduced rate for cash.  That is the first red flag.  Crooks count on the scare factor to collect money from you on the spot, and I can guarantee that you will never see the repair done or the money again.

We have had customers call us and report several scam attempts to us, but the most heartbreaking story was a call from an elderly couple to let us know that they had sent a check in the amount of $1,800 back to the office with our estimator, Dave.  We had no estimator named Dave, and we had sent no one to their home.  What the predator said is that he had been sent by the company who had installed their roof, and noticed the roof was ready to collapse and needed to be fixed immediately.    The predator had no idea who did the roof, but the couple assumed it was a representative from our company since we, in fact, had done the roof a few years earlier.   We pleaded with these fine folks to call the bank and stop payment immediately.  We even offered to go to the police on their behalf, but they were too frightened that the men would come back and harm them.  So, they never saw the men or the $1,800 again.

Another incident that comes to mind is a customer we had installed a new roof for 3 years prior to the knock on her door.  This con man told her the shingles were falling off the roof and it would not survive the winter.  Luckily the lady was my aunt, and she called me immediately.  In the first place she should never have answered the door to a stranger, and neither should you.  The con artist will inevitably tell you he can fix it for a fraction of what anyone else would charge – you just need to give him the money up front; he will leave to get the materials, and you will never see him again.



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