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Real Estate & Home

BBB urges caution for warm weather scams

7/18/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

AKRON — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit and Wayne counties cautions consumers to beware of a wide array of warm weather scams in their neighborhoods.

The summer season often brings unwanted and fraudulent solicitations for a variety of products and services. BBB officials have provided information on the following offers of which to beware:

  • Asphalt pavers — They offer cut-rate paving services, claiming they have material left over from another job in the neighborhood. Their work and materials are often substandard and the quality of work is poor.
  • Home improvement contractors — Many door-to-door contractors are unlicensed, uninsured and unqualified to do the work they offer.
  • Heating, roofing and chimney contractors — They might make false claims that major repairs are necessary or that heating equipment needs replacement.
  • Landscapers and cleanup crews — Scammers knock on doors and send out fliers at this time of year offering yard maintenance and cleanup services. They might show up once or twice, or simply take a deposit and never return to do the work.
  • Magazine sellers — Students are often unaware they are being duped into selling magazine subscriptions for disreputable operators. In many cases, wrong magazines arrive, consumers are overcharged or they never receive the order.
  • Alarm systems — BBBs across the country receive complaints about people selling alarm systems and failing to divulge terms of the contract for alarm system monitoring.

Christy Page, CEO and president of the local BBB, urges consumers to do thorough research before hiring because of shady operators. Locally, the BBB has more than 26,000 free business reviews on companies in the service area that are available online or by calling the office at 330-253-4590.

The BBB offers six tips to get the work done properly and protect against fraudulent operators:

  1. Don’t make decisions at your front door. If your property requires maintenance or remodeling, the BBB recommends researching prospective contractors and sellers at www.akron.bbb.org to see what other consumers’ experiences have been like. Also, do not invite unsolicited salespeople into your home.
  2. Ask for identification and information. If someone is selling door-to-door, request they provide you with proper identification and leave you with material to read about their products and services.
  3. Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics. Avoid sellers who encourage you to sign a contract or put down a deposit right away, claiming that they will offer a special rate.
  4. Check contractors’ credentials and ensure they are licensed, bonded and insured. To research licensing, visit www.com.state.oh.us.
  5. A contract should contain a description of the project, labor and materials to be used, a start and completion date and payment schedule. Make sure contracts contain any verbal promises in writing.
  6. The Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling-Off Rule” gives you three days to cancel purchases over $25 made at your home or other location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business.

More consumer tips are at akron.bbb.org/bbb-news.

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