Five Tips for Seniors to Stop Winter Home Repair Fraud
By Chris Hadley
Storms can cause significant damage to the exterior of homes. This often leaves elderly residents vulnerable to con artists who just happen to show up on the doorstep offering to fix the roof, patch cracks in the driveway and trim limbs from damaged trees.
There are certainly plenty of legitimate contractors and even day laborers just looking for work out there. So, how can you tell the difference?
Here are five ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from door-to-door home repair cons:
- Acknowledge that the risk is real. Women age 75 and older and people with cognitive impairment are twice as likely to be the victim of a con; but everyone is at risk, regardless of other demographic factors.
- Don’t act out of emotion. Don’t see the damage to your home, panic, and just accept any offer for service. People who try to manipulate seniors tend to try and create a sense of urgency. They want payment up front in order to “lock in the deal”. Instead of acting immediately, ask them for their contact information so you can reach out to them after you’ve had a chance to evaluate your options.
- Get all of their information. Ask questions about the company they work for and how long they have been working for them. This is especially true if this is an unsolicited house call. Ask for identification, proof of employment, insurance information, bonding information, etc. If they act nervous or frustrated at all, this may indicate a con or simply a company you probably don’t want to do business with. Always, always, always write down their name, a description of their appearance, the date and time, and the make, model and license-plate number of their vehicle.
- Call for a second opinion. Think of someone you know and trust who would be willing to help verify information, pricing, and other concerns you may have. Keep a short list of people you can call who can give you a second opinion on whether the contractor is offering a legitimate deal.
- Just say no. If it seems too good to be true, either by convenience or by price and time to complete, it probably is. Have the confidence to say NO! It is always better to be safe than sorry.
To find local businesses you can trust, visit us at bbb.org or call (843) 766-9616 • (803) 254-2525