How to Spot a Chimney Cleaner Scam

Chimney work can be a pretty easy scam to perpetrate because most homeowners don’t know much about their chimneys and usually don’t have any good way of checking up to see that the job was done properly. In a recent article, FOXBusiness turned to Better Business Bureau to uncover the latest chimney sweeping scams.

Scams can happen all the time, but tend to increase in times of turmoil, like when a tree falls on the roof or soot is backing up into the house. Criminals prey on desperation and the likelihood that the homeowner hasn’t climbed onto the roof to see what’s going on.

A prevalent scam involves an unscrupulous individual knocking on a homeowner’s door offering a deal on a chimney cleaning service because he or she is in the neighborhood. The scam artist may look legit, spend some time around the chimney and then leave with the payment without making any repairs or real inspections.

In another scam, the fraudster takes a deposit for a future appointment and then disappears for good. Criminals will even use fake referrals to lure in reluctant consumers. For instance,  the scammer may pretend to be from the local fire department and recommend a particular chimney sweep company. He or she will even take a credit card deposit over the phone, opening the door to identity theft.

High pressure sales are a tactic that many unscrupulous sweepers use to get business. As with all home contracting services, don’t be rushed into a decision. Research the companies, starting at bbb.org, and make sure the business you hire has a good reputation and happy customers. Be cautious of red flags: prices considerably lower than competitors, claims of an endorsement from the fire department, unmarked trucks or service personnel with no identification and websites, emails or flyers with typos or poor grammar.

To read the full article, visit www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/01/15/dont-get-swept-how-to-spot-chimney-cleaner-scams.

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About Kelsey Owen

Kelsey Owen is the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Better Business Bureau serving Metro Washington DC and Eastern PA (@BBB_DCPA). Prior to December 2014, Kelsey was the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Council of Better Business Bureaus based out of Arlington, VA. Kelsey graduated from Denison University with a degree in economics and communication and is currently pursuing a master's degree in media entrepreneurship.