It’s comforting to see that in the digital age, one of the oldest scams is still done face-to-face, even door-to-door. Not that it’s any less harmful for all that. Innocent victims can lose thousands of dollars to home improvement scams. To make matters worse, these scams are often accompanied by additional crimes, such as burglary, insurance fraud, extortion, and more.
One of the most common ways that home improvement fraud is perpetrated is by the ostensible contractor unexpectedly knocking on your door. Perhaps he was just driving by and noticed that your roof is damaged, or your driveway is cracked, or your rain gutters are clogged. Whether any of the above is in fact true or false, he is here to save the day, and for an unbeatable price!
Or maybe, when you answer the door, he tells you that he just finished some work in the neighborhood, and has some leftover material. Once again, it’s your lucky day. He can give you the deal of a lifetime to reseal your driveway, or whatever. If you don’t immediately agree, he may say that he’ll get fired if he returns to his boss with so much extra. Also, he’ll lower the price even further. Now you’re getting played both to your sense of compassion and your sense of greed. And if he says it’s now or never, you can add a sense of urgency to the mix. By the way, the “leftover material” may or may not be a lie. In the event it’s technically the truth, it’s because he purposefully ordered more than necessary for the previous job, and the victim before you already paid for it. You’re paying for it a second time.
And what happens if you agree? These scammers are notorious for doing incredibly shabby work. For example, their driveways are often far thinner than accepted standards, and sometimes is nothing more than heavy oil dyed black than makes an old cracked driveway look good until the next rain washes it away. By then the scammers have moved on, of course, so good luck finding them. If the work is being done on your roof out of your sight, they may even make a lot of noise without doing any actual work at all.
Speaking of moving on, this is not only a common tactic and a smart way to avoid the police, but in some cases even a cultural heritage: some of these home repair scammers are members of a secretive insular group known as the Irish Travelers, who came to the U.S. in the 19th century and has communities today in South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, and a few other places. The ones who work the home repair scam follow the good weather in packs, often taking their young teen sons with them to teach the ropes to the new generation.
Other versions of the scam involve predators taking advantage of recent natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes. They are often the first to show up, and the first to disappear after scamming as much money as they quickly can.
Another type of home improvement scam involves a bid much lower than every other contractor. If it sounds like an shockingly good deal, one (or both) of two things will happen. Either the quality of the work will be garbage, or else the contractor is counting on finding “unexpected problems” during the job to bring the cost up.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a home repair scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.