Springtime means scammers may knock on your door to offer services
Editorial by the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York
Every spring, people's thoughts turn to outdoor projects, including concrete and paving. Since March 1, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York has received over 6,300 inquiries from the public about paving contractors.
A check of BBB's "Scam Tracker" shows paving scams are being reported across the country. Most of the reports start the same way, with someone coming to the front door and saying, "We were doing a job down the street and had leftover material, do you want us to do your driveway, too?" And, many people report a loss of money - some upward of $1,000.
How can you avoid paving scams? If someone knocks on your door, BBB's advice is to just say "No."
The following checklist is designed to help people avoid paving and other home improvement scams:
Avoid high-pressure sales, either on the phone or at the door. If the offer has a time limit to it, hang up or close the door. Legitimate businesses will give people time to check for background information and important license and insurance information.
Research the company. Before making any decision to hire a paving or any other kind of contractor, BBB recommends checking out a company's business review. Look for response to complaints if there are any on file.
Use the 3-3-3 rule. Get three estimates from paving companies, don't pay full price upfront or pay with cash. Use BBB's 3-3-3 rule: Pay one third up front, one third halfway or milestone mark, and one third at the completion of the work. BBB also recommends paying by credit card, which offers more protection. Once cash is gone, it's gone.
Get a contract. Reputable businesses will draw up a contract with a description of materials, labor, start and completion dates, company name, local address and telephone number.
If you feel threatened, contact the police. You do not need to speak to anyone at your door. Report them to the local police department. Never let anyone you don't know into your home.
Remember the three-day cooling off rule applies to most home repair contracts. People have the right to cancel a contract by midnight of the third business day, including Saturdays. Everyone should make sure the contract contains details about how to cancel and send all correspondence by certified mail as proof.
BBB encourages anyone who comes across a door-to-door paving scam to report it to BBB's "Scam Tracker" and the local police.
Find more at bbbupstateny.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and charity reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, including BBB of Upstate New York, which was founded in 1923 and serves 48 counties.