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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: contractors, , , , , ,   

    Tornado victims could also be victims of scams 

    Tornado victims could also be victims of scams

    By Greg Collier

    The other day, we discussed how charity scams could follow in the wake of the recent tornadoes that struck the South and Midwest. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also discuss the scams that could be targeting the tornado victims. As is almost always the case, whenever disaster strikes, scammers are sure to follow. It doesn’t matter how extensive the damage or loss of life is, scammers have no qualms about preying on those who’ve already lost everything. Once again, the State of Kentucky has issued a warning to its residents about these potential scams. While you may not currently live in a disaster area, having these tips will leave you better prepared in case you are.

    Disasters like this, and others, will always bring in the shady contractors. They usually come from out of state and approach the property unsolicited. Scammers will ask you to pay in full upfront. Legitimate contractors will have licenses that you can ask to see along with their proof of insurance. Scammers will take your money and do little if any work repairing your home. The State of Kentucky has also warned its residents to be wary of any contractor who claims to be FEMA certified or FEMA referred them to you. FEMA offers no such certification or service.

    Speaking of FEMA, another popular disaster scam is when scammers pose as FEMA but claim they need a payment in order to offer you any kind of disaster relief. This is known as the advance fee scam. FEMA impersonators may also try to steal your identity by asking for personal information.

    The same goes for phone scammers who may try to impersonate your home insurance company. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your insurance company, don’t give them any personal information. Instead, you should hang up and either call your local agent or the customer service phone number listed on your policy.

    You can find more tips on how to avoid these scams at this link.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: contractors, paving scam,   

    Victim gives gun to paving scammers 

    Victim gives gun to paving scammers

    By Greg Collier

    This time of year is the season for paving and contracting scammers. In many parts of the country, these scammers will go from town to town offering home or driveway repair services for relatively cheap prices. They usually offer their services by driving up to someone’s home unsolicited. Often, the scammers will say they have leftover materials from a previous job and that’s why the price appears to be so low, at first. More often than not, the scammers will either leave the work unfinished, or they’ll demand a much higher price than initially offered. Then the scammers can get very intimidating if you don’t have the money to pay them as one victim recently found out.

    A widow from Virginia fell victim to just such a group of scammers. They pulled up to her home, stating they had asphalt left over from a previous job, and gave her a low price per square foot for repaving her driveway. However, they wouldn’t give her an exact quote. After they finished the driveway, they told the woman that the total fee was $7,000. The woman didn’t have this kind of money, and the scammers started pressuring her into considering things like going to the bank to take out a loan or selling some of her personal belongings. At one point, the scammers are said to have wanted to take her dog as partial payment. She eventually gave them $2,000 and a gun that she owned, which they accepted. Police are currently investigating.

    No real contractor or paver will ever drive up to someone’s home unannounced with leftover building materials. The trucks these scammers drive are usually unmarked and could have out of state license plates. Even if you’re in the market to have home repairs done, always get a quote from any contractor you deal with. It’s also best to make sure they’re licensed in the state you reside. If they say they’re licensed but don’t say where, that could be an indication of a scam. Lastly, if you interact with one of these scammers, you may want to call your local police at the non-emergency number to let them know there are potential scammers in your area.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , contractors, hurricanes, , ,   

    How hurricane season scams could affect you 

    How hurricane season scams could affect you

    By Greg Collier

    With the hurricane season just underway, there are expected to be up to 20 named storms in the Atlantic this year. While not all of the named storms will make landfall, there is still potential for storm related damage to affect those in hurricane-prone areas. If the devastation from the storms aren’t bad enough, damaging storms can also bring all sorts of scammers out of the woodwork. Some of these scams can affect you even if you don’t live in the storm-ravaged area.

    If you do live in the storm area, you have to be aware of scam contractors. These are scammers claiming to be contractors who offer help to repair your home. According to the Better Business Bureau, these phony contractors travel from storm to storm, looking for victims. They’ll claim to be licensed, but they may not be licensed in your state. You should only deal with contractors that are licensed in your state. Another good way to avoid this scam is to get estimates from a few contractors. Also, you should never pay in advance as that could be an indication of a scam.

    Another act of fraud that almost inevitably happens with natural disasters is price gouging. This is when businesses will start charging outrageous prices for items or services that are in demand during a crisis. One of the biggest areas of price gouging comes from hotels when people are trying to find emergency lodging. Not only could this price gouging happen in your area, but it could also happen in areas not affected by the storm as shady proprietors could be expecting an influx of people escaping the storm.

    There are also charity scams to look out for. After every major storm, scammers will start posing as charities looking to pressure you into making a donation to them. These phony charities will often have generic sounding names like ‘Storm Relief Fund’ for example. If you want to financially help those affected by the storm it’s always a safe bet to donate to the Red Cross. You can also check the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org to see if the charity you want to donate to is legitimate or not.

    Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, the area you live in probably has its own share of natural disasters. Whether it’s blizzards, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, or what have you, these scams will move into your area if a natural disaster occurs.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , contractors, , ,   

    The scams after the storm 

    The scams after the storm

    By Greg Collier

    Even though temperatures are returning to normal in Texas, there is still a lot of clean-up that needs to be done in the Lone Star State. Power lines still need to be restored and many Texas residents experienced substantial home damage after frozen pipes burst in their homes. After any disaster, scavengers will descend upon the area looking to take advantage of those in need. The Texas winter storm is no different, and it’s not just Texas residents that have to look out for scammers.

    If you live in the affected areas of Texas, you might want to keep an eye out for shady or phony contractors who appear out of the blue offering to repair your home. If you receive unsolicited calls offering repair service or someone just shows up to your home, there’s a very good chance that they are a scammer. We’re obviously not saying that all contractors are scammers, however, there are many scammers who pose as contractors.

    If you were to accept one of these offers, you could be looking at unfinished work at best and loss of potential federal assistance funds at worst. The Texas Department of insurance recommends getting multiple bids from contractors before settling on one to repair your home. You might be tempted to go with the first offer since you want your home operating properly as soon as possible, but that could possibly lead to even more problems. In turn, that could potentially further delay your home from returning to normal.

    You should also avoid anyone who says they’ll waive your insurance deductible or asks for a large down payment or full payment up front. In many cases, these actions are illegal in Texas.

    For people living outside of Texas, you have to be wary of charity scams. If you receive a phone call, text, email, or social media message soliciting for donations, ignore them and delete them. Most scammers will use vague names of charities like ‘Storm Relief’. They’ll also try to pressure you into making a donation at that very moment. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t donate to a legitimate charity to help those in need in Texas. CNN has a list of legitimate charities assisting in Texas disaster relief. You can also go to Charity Navigator to make sure the charity you’re donating to will actually get help to where it’s needed most.

     
  • Geebo 8:52 am on June 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: contractors, ,   

    Craigslist contractors can cause calamity 

    Craigslist contractors can cause calamity

    A subject we don’t discuss on this blog that we really should are the hazards of hiring a contractor off of an unmoderated site like craigslist. Craigslist is rife with both unlicensed contractors and con artists posing as contractors. When a state or municipal licensing board wants to crack down on illegal contractors, craigslist is the first place they turn to.

    Recently in Bakersfield, California, one such supposed contractor was arrested for allegedly placing ads on craigslist and Facebook posing as a contractor while bilking people out of their money. The suspect is said to have collected down payments from potential customers but would pocket the money instead of doing any kind of contracting work. This is just one of the hazards of using craigslist to try to hire a contractor.

    If you allow an unlicensed contractor into your home to do major repairs or alterations, not only could you be gambling with your home improvement fund, but you could also find yourself on the hook for medical expenses if the contractor were to injure themselves without carrying the proper insurance. Many states have licensing websites where you can look up to see if the contractor is licensed. It also helps to check references and your local Better Business Bureau to see if a contractor is trustworthy. Anybody can print out a business card that says they are a contractor, but only a licensed contractor can earn your business and trust through their reputation.

     
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