Spotting House & Home Schemes

April 27, 2014

Types of Schemes:

Reverse Mortgages: While reverse mortgages are a legal and legitimate option for some, schemers have found a couple of ways to trick unwitting seniors In the first scheme, current and potential reverse mortgage borrowers are duped into paying fees (which are normally free) for information and submission of documents related to the mortgage. In the second scheme, fraudsters work with an extensive team of con artists to artificially inflate the value of a home, assist a senior in acquiring a reverse mortgage and dupe them into transferring away the title of the property.

Door-to-Door/Telemarketing: Aggressive sales people selling everything from alarm systems to vacuums and air purifiers, as well as roofing, paving, window washing, painting, plumbing, heating, repair and landscaping services use high-pressure sales tactics to intimidate seniors into buying things they don't need.

Fly-by-Night Contractors: The schemer approaches the homeowner saying they noticed their roof (or some other feature) needs repair and that, since they're in the area, they can give the homeowner a great deal if they give a deposit today. After taking the deposit, the schemer disappears along with the homeowner's money.


When considering a reverse mortgage, carefully research and understand how such a loan product works. Seek out your own reverse mortgage specialist and be sure you are speaking to qualified professionals.

When approached by a door-to-door sales person, ensure they have the proper licensing, identification and documentation. Don't make a purchase or give a deposit at your door. Take time to think about it. A legitimate deal will still be there tomorrow.

If you're at the door or on the phone with a high-pressure sales person and you're uncomfortable hang up or close the door. If you feel threatened, call the police.

When hiring a contractor to work on your home, get three written estimates, check references and research your rights regarding contracts and cooling-off periods.