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Shut the Door on Door-to-Door Home Improvement Scams

While “Marcy” was gardening in her front yard, a man approached. He told her he could repave her driveway at a “bargain price” if she paid cash today. She paid the money, and the man promised to return with a crew the next day to do the work. He never came back.

Maybe your neighborhood has seen the scam: an unknown salesman travels from house to house offering to fix up homes or driveways at rock-bottom prices. He may give a reason why his prices are so low, such as claiming to have supplies left over from another project in your neighborhood. What scammers never tell you is the “catch”: if you pay up front, they may run off with your money, leave the work undone, do shoddy work, or overcharge you in the end.

Door-to-door scams increase in warm weather, and some scammers go from town to town ripping people off. These are some precautions to guard against these scams.

Driveway Pavement Scams

Fraudsters sometimes stop at homes that have older, unpaved or cracked driveways. They use the condition of the driveway as a pressure point, suggesting that the driveway should look more like the driveways of their neighbors or indicating that a better driveway would raise the consumer’s home value. Scammers may try to pressure a homeowner to make a snap decision before they have time to shop around, often by claiming that the “bargain” offer is only available if they act now. Fraudulent operators may be quick to disappear if a homeowner pays up front.

Home Improvement Scams

With this scam, a crooked person may offer to fix a window, repair a roof, or paint a house. These scam artists can be very aggressive. If a homeowner pays for the work up front, the scammer may skip town, refuse to honor the deal, perform shoddy work, or stick the homeowner with an inflated bill. If the homeowner makes a partial payment up front, the scammer may do some limited work to get the homeowner to pay additional funds, before the fraudster skips town.

Security Alarm Scams

Each summer, traveling crews come to Minnesota to sign people up for security alarms. Scammers may get their foot in the door by telling you the alarm is “free” or discounted or that they are with your current alarm company. They may scare you by talking about crime in your neighborhood. They may ask you to sign a contract whose print is so small you can’t even read it. In some cases, people have signed contracts requiring them to pay as much as $50 per month for five years for a security alarm that doesn’t work or that they don’t need. If you want a security alarm, the best advice is to ask friends and family for references and then research those businesses.

Tips To Avoid Door-To-Door Home Improvement Scams

If you suspect a door-to-door scam is occurring in your neighborhood, promptly notify local law enforcement.

For more information, contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office as follows:

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787
TTY: (651) 297-7206 or TTY: (800) 366-4812

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