Watch out for summer scams
By Robin Scott
In a press release dated June 5th, the Dalhart Police Department stated, “The Dalhart Police Department would like to remind everyone that during the summer months, reports of home improvement scams increase. These scams are perpetrated by substandard contractors who travel around the country preying on seniors who are in need of home repairs. These “travelers” offer discounted deals that are designed only to take your money and provide little or no service while making the victim feel like they are getting a good deal. If you feel like you are being victimized in this way, please contact the Dalhart Police Department.”
In recent months, other types of scams have come to the attention of the police department. One prominent scam is perpetrated when an individual receives a check in the mail that includes a letter requesting that the check be cashed and a portion of it remitted to another individual or entity. Any suspicious offer to get a great deal on a product that seems too good to be true, or to receive money in the mail for no reason, should be reported to authorities.
Unfortunately, the number of scams increases during times of high unemployment and a fluctuating economy. Home improvement scams are also referred to as “Traveler” scams. One of the ways the Traveler will try to convince a would-be victim that they are not a scammer, even if not asked directly, is to provide the names of neighbors as customers or say something that indicates how fortunate the victim would be due to the scammer’s busy schedule. Keep in mind, a valid contractor asks customers to sign a contract that protects both parties, has a valid license for the type of work they profess to perform or can be reached by telephone. When asked for that type of information, the Traveler is unable to provide requested documentation. Reputable contractors don’t go door to door looking for business, and it makes no sense for a Traveler to offer some unbelievably great deal while he’s passing through town.
Don’t pay a deposit, do request verifiable identification, permits or licenses, business address and telephone numbers that are printed, do ask to see their contract for services or other documentation, and do contact authorities if a Traveler appears on the doorstep wanting to provide services that seem suspicious. Often even if the Traveler comes back to do work as promised but it’s done with substandard materials and substandard skills.
Equipment, furniture and the like sold by Travelers may come from companies that specialize in putting together parts purchased from Taiwan, then slapping on a “Made in America” label. The products come with a bill of lading that indicates an inflated value, but the Traveler’s scam is to undercut the bill of lading, making the deal too good to be true. Poorly made furniture touted as high quality is another common scam. Being wary, asking questions and requesting proof of identification and licenses is a good defense against getting scammed.
Businesses may be verified on line at www.bbb.org. A comprehensive list of scams and descriptions may be found at www.fraudtech.bizland.com.