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Home Repair Scams – What You Should Know

Monday, 27 December 2004 12:00 AM

And, according to law enforcement officials, a few Travelers are alleged to be associated with scams, mostly involving home improvement schemes.

According to the CSLB, a common sham setup is like this: A Traveler knocks on a homeowner’s door, claims to have roofing material left over from a job just completed in the neighborhood, and offers to repair or seal the roof or driveway at a reduced price.

This kind of con artist will then use a useless, watery substance on the roof or driveway, collect a cash payment, and then move on without revealing their phone number or address. Once the homeowner realizes no work has been done, and that they have been schemed, it is too late – the Traveler is gone!

Other common Traveler routines, according to the CSLB, include sneaking a wet sponge or spray bottle into the victim’s home, secretly applying water to the ceiling, and they claim it is wet from a leaky roof.

Also, Travelers like to target older residential neighborhoods or mobile home parks and look for elderly homeowner victims who may not realize they have been defrauded until family members examine their bank records and discover that funds have been spent.

Many paving jobs completed by home repair crooks are done so poorly that the asphalt will crack, or even wash away, after the first rain!

What can you do to help protect yourself and your loved ones from these mischievous swindlers?

The CSLB offers these home repair rip-off “red flags” you should be aware of:

1. Door-to-door solicitations from individuals related by family.

2. An offer to do painting, roofing or paving repairs.

3. An offer to apply “sealers” to roofs, walls, concrete or asphalt.

4. A claim they have left-over materials at a cheap price.

5. High-pressure or scare tactics.

6. The use of invertible names such as, for example, mixing Charles Johnston Stewart and Charles Stewart Johnston.

7. A reluctance to give an up-front price or a written contract in advance of work being performed.

8. A demand for cash.

9. Brand-new vehicles, truck-mounted spray machines, and out-of-state license plates.

10. Toll-free telephone numbers instead of local numbers.

11. Post office boxes, private mailboxes and suites instead of local business addresses.

Here is an actual case, as reported by the CSLB, of a home repair fraud: One suspected Traveler was arrested in California for contracting without a license. This unlicensed paving contractor, and three associates, all from the Midwest, arrived in California with paving equipment in tow, and checked into a local motel.

After they picked-up asphalt from a supplier, they drove to a residence, offered to pave the driveway for an exorbitant amount of money, and began work which was below the industry standard.

The “red flags” in this scenario are that the contractor had no license, no local business address or phone number, and no way for the homeowner to contact him or follow-up to resolve problems.

For more details on this subject, please check out this website: www.cslb.ca.gov.

My Final Thoughts: These lawbreakers travel across the United States and perform inferior, useless or even destructive work. And once the victim realizes that they have been bilked, it is usually too late to locate the fraudulent contractor.

Your best bet is to avoid these shady characters in the first place by making sure you are doing business with an established, legitimate home improvement business.

(Note: If you manufacture or distribute any Security, Safety, Homeland Defense, Emergency Preparedness or Crime Prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.)

Copyright 2004 by Bruce Mandelblit

“Staying Safe” with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of NewsMax.com and NewsMax.com Magazine. Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His email address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com. Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve Law Enforcement Officer. Bruce writes Staying Safe, a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety and crime prevention. Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel -- the state’s highest honor -- for his public service. This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.

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And, according to law enforcement officials, a few Travelers are alleged to be associated with scams, mostly involving home improvement schemes. According to the CSLB, a common sham setup is like this: A Traveler knocks on a homeowner's door, claims to have roofing...
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Monday, 27 December 2004 12:00 AM
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