Avoid door-to-door contractors this summer

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is how scammers posing as door-to-door contractors operate.

Be wary of contractors at your door!

Be wary of contractors at your door!

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York’s Scam Tracker had a report from a man who had issues with his driveway, after seeing the contractor at his neighbor’s house. He asked for company for a price to fix his own driveway. The job was completed for $7,000. Weeks later, he said plants began to sprout between cracks in the asphalt. This year, the concrete began to heave and more plants appeared. The phone number on the invoice was disconnected. The paving company was in the news last year by the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office for preying on elderly people in the area.

Door-to-door scams often have this MO: A person shows up at your door, offering to to fix something they “noticed while passing through the neighborhood,” either a roof, a driveway, etc.  If you agree to the work, they will start, and suddenly be out of the stuff they need to finish. They then promise to come back the next day…but never return. The customer is left with an incomplete project. Any savings are lost when a second contractor has to come in finish or re-do the job the right way.

Follow BBB’s tips to avoid getting scammed at your door:

  • Avoid high-pressure sales. A legitimate business will give you time to check licensing and background information. Call your city or town municipality or visit New York State online to confirm the contractor or contractors are in good standing.

  • Do your research. BBB recommends you get three estimates from reputable contractors for your project. BBB Business Reviews will show if the contractor has had complaints and how the complaints were resolved. Accredited Businesses have agreed to resolve any complaints filed and to uphold BBB Standards of Trust.

  • Use the 3-3-3 rule.  BBB’s 3-3-3 rule explains how to break up the payments: pay one third up front, one third at a milestone mark (half-way) and one third at the completion of the project. Never pay up front and don’t pay with cash. Instead, pay by credit card. Banks offer protection for credit card purchases. There is no way to track cash payments.

  • Get a contract. Trustworthy contractors will draw up a contract with a description of materials, labor, start and completion dates, company name, local address and telephone number.

  • You have three days to reconsider. Keep in mind that the three-day cooling off rule applies to most home repair contracts. You may decide to cancel the contract by midnight of the third day, including Saturdays. Make sure the contract has details about how to cancel and send all correspondence by certified mail as proof that you followed the cancellation requirements.

  • If you feel threatened, call the police. Never let a door-to-door salesperson in your home.

  • Report it. BBB’s Scam Tracker allows people to report solicitations and find out more about other scams across the country.


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