Spotting a home repair scammer

After a hail storm, Doris is approached by a very nice man who says he can evaluate her roof to see there is damage. He confirms the damage and offers her what he calls, “a rock bottom price” to fix her roof. He tells Doris that his price is so low, it will be lower than her deductible, so there is no need to file an insurance claim and wait weeks for approval, especially since he claims her roof is in such bad shape. Doris agrees and asks for his phone number. He claims he accidentally dropped it in a puddle and it doesn’t work anymore. He has been so busy, he hasn’t had a chance to get a new one. The man is so nice and kind, talking about his kids and how he takes his son fishing, that Doris writes him a check (to him not a company). Doris has just been scammed.

The elderly are prime targets for home repair scammers. There are several reasons for this:

  • Older adults are trustworthy.
  • They live in older homes that may be in need of repair.
  • People may not believe the older adult when they say they have been scammed.

How to spot a scammer:

  • They will come to your house, unannounced and show you a problem you didn’t know existed. This is especially true after bad weather.
  • The contractor will pressure you to make a decision immediately, sometimes saying there is a special or you will save money by booking now.
  • They will not provide contact information.
  • Ask you to pay in full, upfront for that special price.
  • During the process you are informed of ‘extra costs’ and threatened with legal action if you don’t ‘pay up’.

What to do if you feel you have been taken advantage of:

  • Work with the contractor first to correct any problems, if possible.
  • Document any phone conversations. Take pictures of the shoddy work.
  • Contact your local attorney general to file a claim.

Do not be embarrassed to file a claim. Chances are very good this person will find other victims  and had many before you. You will be doing others a big favor by your actions.

Picture: Pixaby