As severe weather begins to pop up across the northern plains, so do crafty con artists! The stormy summer months are prime time for home repair scams. The general ruse involves someone coming to your door and offering to do work on your home, typically at a steep discount, but never really delivering on the promise of ‘improvement’.

How it Works:

 

A con artist representing themselves as a contractor comes to your door and claims to have just finished a job for a neighbor. Since they’re in the neighborhood, they’ll say, you can get work done at a steep discount. The only catch is, they will require payment upfront. Then they disappear – or they may do the work but it will be shoddy and they’ll demand more money to finish the job.

What You Should Know:

 

  • Be wary of anyone who comes to your door and offers to fix a problem.
  • The con artist will try to pressure you into making a decision quickly – don’t get caught ‘under the ether’.
  • He or she will likely ask you to pay for the work upfront.
What You Should Do:

 

  • Get a written estimate and compare bids before starting any work.
  • Ask any contractor you plan to use for three references – and then check them.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints before you hire a contractor.

A safe bet is to avoid working with any contractors who contact you first. When you do need to get work done, ask friends, neighbors and relatives for recommendations. And never pay a thing until you have a written contract in hand.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You can join the Fraud Watch Network and receive alerts about scams like this happening in South Dakota. Any one of any age can join for free by visiting aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.

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