Sheriff's Office warns of home-improvement scams

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Sheriff's Office warns of home-improvement scams

From staff reports
info@islandpacket.com
Published Monday, October 31, 2011   |  325 Words  |  

Contracting scammers are working Beaufort County neighborhoods, and residents should be skeptical of unsolicited offers to do work around their homes, particularly with driveway-paving contracts, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Asphalt paving scams are a common and could result in costly losses for homeowners, the Sheriff's Office says. Often, victims are charged three or four times the usual rate for inferior work. Senior citizens are often the selected target in this type of fraud, the release said.

Citizens can protect themselves by taking precautions when dealing with a paving contractor. Be skeptical of those who:

  • Sell door-to-door. Reputable asphalt contractors will rarely, if ever, sell this way.
  • Claim they have leftover asphalt from another job. Professional asphalt contractors will know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete a project. Rarely will they have leftover material.
  • Push you to make a quick decision. Reputable contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. If the great deal they are offering you today is not available tomorrow or next week it is probably a scam. Never hire someone on the spot. Ask for references, then check them.
  • Fails to offer a contract. Insist on a written contract specifying in detail, the work to be performed and the agreed total price -- not the price per square foot. Unless you measured the area to be paved you don't know what the total cost will be.
  • Insists upon cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and don't require cash-only terms.
  • Makes deals that seem too good to be true.
  • The Sheriff's Office recommends dealing with contractors who have community roots. If you believe you may have been victim of a scam, contact the Beaufort County Dispatch Center at 843-524-2777.