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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Southwest Louisiana
6 Tips to Protect Yourself When a Stranger Comes Knocking
June 17, 2013

BBB Urges Consumers to Avoid Doing Business at the Front Door

BBB SWLA – June 17, 2013 – SWLA Better Business Bureau cautions consumers to beware of a wide array of warm weather scams in their neighborhoods.

April flowers bring May flowers and with them, unwanted and often fraudulent solicitations for a variety of products and services.  They are run by con artists who move from town to town and state to state, performing poor work, or simply collecting deposits and leaving behind a trail of unhappy consumers.

Asphalt pavers - They offer cut-rate paving services, claiming they have material left over from another job in the neighborhood.  Their work and materials are often substandard and the quality of work is poor.

Home improvement contractors - Many door to door contractors are unlicensed, uninsured and unqualified to do the work they offer.

Heating, roofing and chimney contractors – They may make false claims that major repairs are necessary or that heating equipment needs replacement. 

Landscapers and cleanup crews – Scammers knock on doors and send out flyers at this time of year, offering yard maintenance and cleanup services. They may show up once or twice, or simply take a deposit and never return to do the work.

Magazine sellers – Students are often unaware they are being duped into selling magazine subscriptions for disreputable operators.  In many cases wrong magazines arrive or consumers are overcharged.  In other situations, the magazine vendors’ boss is simply collecting credit card information for the purpose of committing fraud.

Alarm systems – BBBs across the country receive complaints about people selling alarm systems and failing to divulge terms of the contract for alarm system monitoring.

Better Business Bureau urges consumers to be very careful when hiring, because of shady operators.

“Most contractors are legitimate.  Unfortunately, their reputation can be tarnished by unscrupulous operators who cheat consumers. The good news is that consumers are more than ever researching companies, because of concerns about scams, reliability and quality of work.”

SWLA Better Business Bureau offers six tips to get the work done properly, and protect against fraudulent operators:

  1. Don’t make decisions at your front door.  If your property requires maintenance or remodeling, BBB recommends researching prospective contractors and sellers at www.bbb.org, to see what other consumers’ experiences have been like.  Also, do not invite unsolicited salespeople into your home.
  2.  Ask for identification and information. If someone is selling door to door, request they provide you with proper identification and leave you with material to read about their products and services.   Legitimate sellers and contractors will give you the time you need to research their reputation and reliability.
  3. Watch out for high pressure sales tactics.  Avoid sellers who encourage you to sign a contract or put down a deposit right away, claiming that will offer a special rate, but only if you act immediately.
  4. Check all contractors’ credentials.  Make sure they provide proof of required insurance coverage, licensing and proof of registration with the State of Connecticut.  Consumers may research licensing through the Department of Consumer Protection website at https://www.elicense.ct.gov/.
  5. Get it all in writing.  A contract should contain a description of the project, labor and materials to be used, a start and completion date and payment schedule.  Make sure contracts contain any verbal promises in writing.
  6. Remember your rights. The Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling-Off Rule” gives you three days to cancel purchases over $25 made at your home or other location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business.

Better Business Bureau also urges consumers to be even more wary of telephone solicitations for products and services.  You will find additional consumer tips at bbb.org.

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