Warm Weather Brings Con Artists

April 24, 2009

Spring is here, so be careful of con artists who prey on homeowners, especially senior citizens during this time of year.

One common scheme involves resurfacing asphalt driveways. A male with an British accent representing Citylink Paving showed up to the Richmond area this past year promising to repave driveways at a reduced cost, as he had extra material and his staff was available. The representative even offered assurances of a guarantee for 10 years to help convince the homeowner.

It turns out that the work was substandard and fell apart after a few days and after trying to track down the company the homeowner found out the office listed on the invoice was a fake.

“These fly by night contractors typically target a community for only a few days and then move to another location leaving consumers out-of-pocket money and upset,” says BBB President and CEO Lynda Pasacreta. “Consumers need to be vigilant and not be taken in by low prices and guarantees.”

Before you give any money to anyone or allow them into your home, BBB suggests:

Get the name and location. Get the name and address of the company the vendor claims to represent and do your research. Check the business out at BBB.org.

Get it in writing. Ensure all details and verbal promises are included in a contract. Review it and make sure that you understand everything in the document. Never sign a contract with sections left blank.

Check for qualifications. Verify the individual is licensed, bonded, insured and has registered with WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation Board).

Make cheques payable to the company. Do not pay in cash and do not make cheques payable to an individual, only the company.

Avoid "Bait and switch" tactics. Some disreputable companies will offer low prices for installing items like windows and home siding, but then come back later to the client saying the item is currently out of stock and can only be replaced with a high-priced substitute. Have everything in writing and know the terms in advance.

Remember to cool off if there’s pressure. Do not be pressured by any person if you are unsure. Take the time to do your due diligence. If you did sign and would like change your mind, BC law states that if it was a door-to-door sales contract then you have 10 days to advise the company.

For more tips like these, go to BBB.org.