As springtime blooms, so do new scams. Scammers will be going door-to-door with plans to rip-off the residents. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers that now is the time to be on their guard.
“Most of the scams aren’t new but because con artists know how to work them they appear year after year,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “What we want to do is educate consumers on what to look for so they can stay one step ahead.”
Alarm System Scams
No one wants to have their home burglarized and many homeowners pay substantial sums to have their homes protected by security systems. These scam artists, who are often alarm company sales people, comb neighborhoods looking for signs posted in yards warning that the home has a security system. They knock on the door and tell you the system needs to be upgraded. Once inside they give you the bad news that the system cannot protect you against today’s modern theft techniques and offer to “upgrade” your system. In reality, they are disconnecting your service provider and installing a system from their company. If you agree to the “upgrade” and sign their agreement you could be locked into a multi-year contract that can end with a costly penalty if you try to break it.
How to protect yourself:
Spring can bring severe weather leaving behind hail-damaged roofs. Following the storms are fraudsters known as “storm chasers”. These scam artists sell themselves as roofing contractors. They go town-to-town, door-to door, taking money for work, under performing or not performing at all, and then moving on to the next town before the homeowners can get their money back.
Homeowners can lose thousands of dollars in these scams.
The BBB offers these tips before choosing a roofing contractor:
Magazine Sales Scams
You open your door to find someone selling subscriptions to magazines. They say it’s a great deal but often the prices are as much as three times the regular price. You pay with a check or credit card and then you receive nothing in return.
What to do to avoid being scammed:
The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices. The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2014, the BBB provided more than 13,700,000 instances of service. Over 78 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.