We’re Not Foolin’ – Springtime Means Scamtime

BBB is warning homeowners as the weather gets warmer (and it will eventually) there may be an uptick of door to door dishonesty.

Traveling Groups
Some well known convoys of individuals that travel across the country set up in one location near a metropolitan area and then branch out to different neighborhoods. Their mission is to distract homeowners by offering to do various odd jobs for payment while another part of their group breaks into the house to steal items. While it may be a mixed group of men and women, women and children as young as 14 are typically involved with the schemes. The group typically offers to black top a driveway or trim trees and overcharge for work that actually is only cosmetic. While the work is being done, they will distract the homeowner while a different member of the group enters the home, stealing small items they can carry.

A meter reading scam is another ploy where they will distract you while another member of the group gets into the home looking for valuables. It should be noted, some utility companies use a remote device for reading meters but it is best to check with YOUR utility company to determine what method they use. Word of advice? If you are approached by this group, don’t agree to have any work done.

Finally, if you’re like me and love to work outside, be aware of your surroundings! Homeowners will work in the backyard, but leave the garage door open or front door unlocked. This is an open invitation for uninvited guests to walk into a home, look for valuables and then take off without the homeowner even knowing anyone was inside.

Landscapers, roofers, window installers
It’s not uncommon for legitimate companies to hire traveling sales agents to go door-to-door, making unsolicited “cold calls” on homeowners to help boost sales. They’ll use an opening line about the exterior of your home, yard or something else about your home. However, in some cases, a high-pressure or deceptive sales tactics to get potential customers to buy expensive, and sometimes substandard, systems, equipment or services consumers quickly follows.

When answering the door, take note of the individuals attire and if applicable, see if they drove a vehicle. It sounds strange but often they will park up a block or two and work the neighborhood on foot. Ask for identification. Some state laws require door-to-door salespeople to tell you their name, the name of the business they represent, and the goods or services they are selling before asking you any questions or making any statements. Other states require salespeople to show you their “pocket card” license and a photo ID. Take the literature, if they have any and check it out at bbb.org. Also, check with your municipality to see if they are even registered or allowed to sell door to door in your neighborhood.

Consumers are often safer dealing with a contractor who has roots in the community. BBB recommends choosing a contractor they can trust. Visit bbb.org for a directory of Accredited Businesses for your next home improvement project.

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About Sandra Guile

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. BBB|Cincinnati is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 - to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.