Paving and Home Repair Scams Target Senior Citizens

June 03, 2014

BBB warns of schemers using low bids to lure victims, commonly elderly

DENVER – Warm weather brings out some of the worst practices and scams in the marketplace says the Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder in a warning about traveling contractors. Residents should be cautious this season of contractors knocking on doors or approaching front yards who claim to have leftover material and offer bargain deals. Such transactions often end with shoddy work and largely inflated costs compared to the original estimate, and commonly happen to senior citizens.

The Office of the Attorney General recently announced the indictment of five men connected to an asphalt paving and roofing repair operation of this nature. “One man paid in excess of $24,000 for egregiously substandard work. In another instance, a 94-year old woman was swindled out of $8,300 for work that was structurally terrible and worth no more than $1,521,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers in a recent news release.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, the case against the ring is the first it is prosecuting under the state’s recently-enacted Elder Abuse law. The BBB advocates for senior consumer rights and has worked in recent years to build awareness of Elder Abuse.

The BBB advises homeowners who need repairs to get several estimates from BBB Accredited contractors by using or by calling 303-758-2100, and beware of these common scam red flags:

  • Selling door-to-door. Reputable contractors will rarely, if ever, sell their product door-to-door.
  • Claiming they have leftover materials from another job. Professional contractors know, with great accuracy, how much material is needed to complete a project. Rarely will they have leftover material. The “leftover” ploy is common in the traveler culture.
  • Push you to make a quick decision. Trustworthy contractors provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. Never hire someone on the spot and do thorough research on any contractor before you hire them.
  • No contract offered. Insist on a written contract specifying in detail the work to be performed and the agreed total price, not just price per square foot.
  • Cash-only sales. Reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and don’t require cash-only terms.
  • Deals that seem too good to be true. If the quoted price seems unusually low, chances are the quality of work will also be low.
  • Out of state. Often the trucks scammers travel in are unmarked or have an out-of-state license plate.  Even if they claim to have a local phone number, scammers have more recently been purchasing disposable cell phone plans to provide a local number in the area they are soliciting. A little research will reveal that they have no permanent address and are not based locally.

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