BBB Warns: Spring Scams Popping Up All Over

April 12, 2009
Spring is synonymous with all-things fresh and new. Maybe you’re knee deep in spring cleaning (have fun with that!) or inventorying fix-up projects that need doing. Time for a paint job? Check. Hmm, need new rain gutters? Probably so. Add on an extra room? This could be the year.

And just when you’re ready to tackle home projects, here comes some guy in a pickup offering to do it for you. What great timing, right? And what a great estimate!

In fact, your doorbell probably gets a workout in warm-weather months from all types of people offering you all kinds of goods and services. Many of them are out-and-out scams. Your BBB recommends watching out for these three:

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 remarkably low cost, or maybe they tell you they have supplies “leftover” from a job down the street that will lower the estimate even more. The hitch is, you have to decide on the spot. 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: Reputable contractors don’t go door-to-door soliciting business and they certainly don’t make customers decide on the spot to accept the bid. Ask friends, family and colleagues for names of reliable contractors and get bids from at least three. Call references and see finished projects if possible. Request a business reliability report at

Spring Scam 2: Smiling kids selling magazines or candy constantly come knocking. Thing is, you’ve never seen these kids before. Hmmm.

BBB Advice: Scam artists hire youth to sell magazines and candy because it’s hard to say no to them. 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 red flag. Ask where and how the money will be used. Postpone a purchase until you can research the offer. Don’t let the salesperson inside your home - ever.

Spring Scam 3: You want to get away from it all and you’ve heard deals abound for a dream vacation.

BBB Advice: Vacation scams cost consumers more than $10 billion annually. Of the almost 4,000 industries the BBB monitors, the travel industry consistently ranks near or in the top 25 for number of complaints. What to do? Gather information, ask detailed questions and request a BBB reliability report for any travel company you plan to work with. Also, pay with a credit card and stay away from deals that require booking 60 days in advance because disputing a charge after that time is difficult — and scam artists know that.

Start With Trust. Check out the BBB blog and find consumer information and alerts at or call 470-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.