After a long icy winter, the approach of spring is a welcome relief. Flowers start to bloom, the house needs a good air-out, and spring is usually a time when homeowners decide to do some home improvement like painting the outside, or fixing up the bathroom. From April, until about the end of August, it is a great time to build and renovate, until the winter again comes. However, springtime also brings out the scammers.
Types of scams
• A favorite ruse is where the scammer approaches an elderly person or persons and offers to do some handy work. He is working in the area, he says, and offers to paint the outside of the house or tar the driveway; Something you've been wanting to do a long time, but just not got around to. He looks respectable, he has a ladder in the van, and you give him the job. He tells you he does not pay for the paint and painting supplies out of his pocket, and you give him the money to pick up the paint. He leaves and does not come back to do the job.
• Another scam is where a supposed handyman knocks on the door and says your driveway can do with a tarring, and that he has some tar left from another job, and offers to fill up all the cracks and tar the driveway. You can not walk on the driveway for a day and stay out of the way. You pay him and thank him and the next day discover he has used black paint instead of tar. All he has paid for is a gallon of black paint while you paid him a few grand.
All these scammers get access to gullible people because they were supposedly working in the area or because they had materials left. The scams also include legitimate substances which have been watered down. The sheriff said crimes for overcharging older people or scamming them carry enhanced penalties if the scam artists are caught, but local police have not had much luck charging people involved in the schemes because they are in and out quickly and are hard to identify. Another reason may also be that people are embarrassed to admit they've been scanned.
Protecting yourself from a scammer
1. Beware of anyone who approaches you for work around the house and requests for payment upfront. The money gets paid once the job is done and you are satisfied with the work.
2. Ask for a name, driver's license, and check with the Better Business Bureau.
3. Write down the license plate number of the person who has approached you for work.
4. If you happen to be approached by someone who by all looks look like a contractor who suggests some renovations or driveway jobs for you, tell him he will have to pay for the materials and you will repay him once he brings the receipts.
5. If you have been scammed, inform the police and educate people in the neighborhood by warning them to beware.