Ironically, it’s refreshing that in the digital age one of the oldest scams is still done on foot. Face-to-face, even door-to-door. Not that it’s any less harmful than its digital cousins. Innocent victims can lose thousands of dollars to home improvement scams. To make matters worse, these scams often involve additional crimes as well. You may be opening your door to burglary, insurance fraud and extortion, among other nightmares.
What’s the most common way to get mixed up in home improvement scams? It really is by answering the door. The ostensible contractor unexpectedly shows up and offers to help. He’ll say 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 is irrelevant. He’s here to save the day, and for an unbeatable price!
What About the Materials?
When you answer the door he may just tell you that he just finished some work in the neighborhood. He 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. What if that ploy doesn’t work? If you don’t immediately agree, he may pressure you. For example, he may claim that he’ll get fired if he returns to his boss with so much extra stuff. Also, he’ll offer to lower the price even further because he’ll be using that leftover material. Now he’s playing to 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 exist. In the event it does, it’s because he purposefully ordered more than necessary for the previous job. The victim before you already paid for it. You’re paying for it a second time.
And What Happens if You Fall for Home Repair Scams?
These scammers are notorious for doing incredibly shabby work. For example, their driveways are often far thinner than accepted standards. Sometimes they do nothing more than apply a film of heavy oil dyed black. That make an old cracked driveway look good until the next rain washes it away. By then the scammers are long gone, of course. Good luck in finding them. If they’re not in your sight when they’re working on your roof, 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. 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. The Travelers came to the U.S. in the 19th century and today have communities 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. They often taking their young teenage sons with them to teach the ropes to the new generation.
Other Types of Home Repair Scams
Predators can also take 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 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. The first is that the quality of the work will be dreadfully inadequate. The second is that the scammer is counting on finding “unexpected problems” during the job to inflate the final cost.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a home repair scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.