Marion County — Residents should beware of traveling “home improvement” contractors looking to scam you out of your money. The con artists are targeting Central Florida residents, and often prey on the elderly. The frequency of these types of scams will increase as the weather begins to warm up.
Here’s how the scams work:
An adult male approaches your house out of the blue, telling you that he is in the area doing some other type of construction or home improvement work, and has some leftover material he’d be willing to use to complete any projects at your house, for a “significant discount.” Two common offers are sealing driveways, or roofing repairs. The con artists are typically driving newer trucks or large vehicle, and will not have any company decals or logos on it. The con artists will most likely not have any business insignia’s on clothing, and will not have business cards to offer.
Below are a several tips to remember when dealing with those who solicit “home improvement” business door-to-door:
* Request a written estimate on all home improvement offers and compare the prices. Con artists are notorious for charging a higher price for inferior materials and unnecessary repairs. Without a written estimate, victims get trapped into paying extremely high total costs when the job is “finished.”
* Do not be rushed into a “special bargain” – often described as a “one-time” offer. An example is that a Traveler will claim he has excess asphalt, tar, etc. from another job and he will sell it “cheap.” Remember, if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
* Do not do any business with any “contractor” with an out-of-state vehicle license.
* Any legitimate contractor soliciting work should have a Business Tax Receipt from the County in which they are offering the services (If applicable), a soliciting permit from the Clerk of the Courts (If applicable), and a Florida Contractor’s License. If they do not have them, do not do business with them.
* Be careful responding to any roadside sign offering work, as this tactic is often used by Travelers. Out-of-state telephone numbers are also used in many of these scams.
* Call trusted family or friends to help you verify soliciting “contractors.”
* Do not pay for anything until all services are completed to your satisfaction.
* Do not give out credit card numbers over the phone.
* Your best option is not to do business with any travelling soliciting contractor, instead, contact local trusted construction companies and ask for references for honest local contractors.
If you suspect a con artist is lurking in your area contact authorities immediately.