With the cold weather upon us, it’s important to be alert and wary of door-to-door scams that crop up in the winter months.
Watch out for these red flags when considering home improvements, whether having your furnace inspected, your chimney swept, your leaky roof repaired, your heating ducts cleaned or snow removed from your driveway:
• Beware of the handyman who stops by unannounced because he was “in the neighborhood.” These scammers like to make a quick or faulty repair and then disappear with your money.
• Never pay up front. You’re making it easier than ever for a fraudster to take your money and run. Some legitimate contractors may require a small deposit to begin the work, but contractors have credit lines for big-ticket items and don’t need your cash up front to purchase materials.
• Beware of special “limited-time offers” that force you into acting quickly. Take the business’s information and do your research through the Better Business Bureau or by checking other independent references before hiring.
• Be suspicious if you are informed that you need a new furnace or a new roof after a brief inspection. It’s a good idea to get a second opinion from another company before purchasing a big-ticket item.
• Regardless of what you purchase in your home, if you want to cancel it, act quickly. The Federal Trade Commission dictates a three-day cancellation allowance for a refund on purchases over $25, with some exceptions.