By Allen Riggs
HOME IMPROVEMENT FRAUD
Home improvement contractors use several methods of
targeting seniors: high pressure phone calls, flyers,
advertisements, and door-to-door-sales. Fraudulent
contractors can be very effective in making people think
their services are needed, and then defrauding their
STEPS TO TAKE:
- Use a local well-established contractor. Ask
for references and check them.
- Get competitive bids on all work and be wary of any
bids that seem too good to be true. Donít accept
high-pressure offers or offers that force you to make a
- Determine exactly what work you want done.
Make sure the project is explicitly described in your
contract, including materials and labor specifics and
dates for estimated start and completion.
- Never say yes to someone who wants money up front
before the job is done or wants you to withdraw a large
amount of money from your bank.
- Check to see that the work is complete and done
correctly before paying.
- Find out when and how payment and/or billing will
take place before the work begins.
Seniors are frequent victims of door-to-door scams and
high-pressure sales tactics. While some door-to-door
salespeople are honest, the chances are likely that whoever
answers the door is about to be swindled. Con-artists
often try to coax seniors into buying unnecessary products
or services ranging from living trusts to encyclopedias to
household cleaning supplies. They usually appear
friendly and appear sincere in their desire to help.
In fact, they are successful because they seem so honest.
STEPS TO TAKE:
- Never allow anyone you donít know into your home.
It is easier to close the door on them before they get
in than to get them out once they are inside.
- Donít buy on impulse. Tell the salesperson you
will get back in touch after you have had a chance to
carefully read all the materials given to you.
- Ask to see the salespersonís credentials and
identification and request their business card.
Many communities require door-to-door salespersons to
have a permit.
- Never give cash up front to a salesperson or rely on
verbal promises for delivered goods.
- If you sign a contract, make sure that it is
complete, signed and dated. Get all terms in
writing, including the total price, warranties, return
policy, and all conditions of sale.
- Know that you can get out of a door-to-door sales
contract within three business days. According to
the FTCís Cooling Off Rule, you have the right to cancel
your contract for a full refund until midnight of the
third business day after the sale, provided that you
have a signed contract and the sale was over $25.
You donít have to have any reason to cancel.