Spotting House & Home Scams

  
     
This month BBB is recognizing and celebrating senior citizens for their family support, charitable contributions and volunteer work. However, seniors are often the target of scammer's scheming ways, which is why BBB is educating the elderly about how to avoid potential pitfalls of too-good-to-be-true deals.
June 09, 2014

Types of Scams
Reverse Mortgages: While reverse mortgages are a legal and legitimate option for some, scammers have found a couple of ways to trick unwitting seniors. In the first scam, 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 scam, 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 scammer 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 scammer disappears along with the homeowner’s money

Tips

  • 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.