BBB: Spring Has Sprung — And So Have Scams

March 15, 2009
Spring is just around the corner and I’m ready for signs of new growth, even if it’s just the daffodils in their bright yellow splendor. It gives me hope that life is not all doom and gloom.

But there are other more nefarious signs that spring has sprung.

Spring Scam #1: A slew of “contractors” come knocking on your door offering to fix your roof, paint your house, build that spare room or even pave your driveway. They offer to do the job at a good price, maybe even less than you thought it would cost. Or maybe they tell you they have supplies “leftover” from a job just down the street that will lower the cost of your job. The hitch is, you have to decide right then and there. And then you have to pay upfront. What’s wrong with that? Chances are you’ll never see the contractor — or your money — again. If they do return, they do the job with inferior supplies and poor workmanship.

BBB Advice: Take a deep breath and say “thanks but no thanks.” Why? Reputable contractors don’t usually go door-to-door soliciting business and they certainly don’t make customers decide on the spot to accept the bid. Also, legitimate businesses know that they won’t be paid in full until the job is done — and done to the customer’s satisfaction. After that deep breath, ask friends, family and colleagues for names of reputable contractors and take the time to get bids from at least three. Call their references and go see finished projects if the opportunity exists. Don’t forget to contact your BBB ( for a business reliability report or a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in that industry before you make a final decision.

Spring Scam #2: Your doorbell gets a workout from smiling, cherubic kids selling magazines or candy. Thing is, you’ve never seen those kids before. Hmmm.

BBB Advice: Scam artists like to use youth to sell magazines and candy because it’s hard to say no to a kid. So how do you tell a legitimate fund raiser from a scam? Ask who the young salesperson represents. Ask about the nonprofit and request a name, address and phone number. If the information can’t be provided, consider that a definite red flag. Ask where and how the money will be used. Postpone a purchase decision until you can research the offer. And above all else don’t let the salesperson inside your home.

Spring Scam #3: You’re ready to get away from it all and you’ve heard that deals abound for a dream vacation. In fact, vacation scams cost consumers more than $10 billion each year. Out of the almost 4,000 industries the BBB monitors, the travel industry consistently ranks near or in the top 25 for number of complaints.

BBB Advice: Gather information, ask detailed questions and request a BBB reliability report for any travel company you plan to work with. Or, get a list of BBB Accredited travel agencies. Also, pay with a credit card and stay away from deals that require booking 60 days in advance. Why? Because disputing a charge after that time is difficult to do — and scam artists know that.

Start With Trust. Check out Luanne Kadlub’s BBB blog and find information and alerts on consumer scams at or call 470-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.