Beware of repair fraudsters

Unfortunately, the home renovation and repair fraudsters will also come out of hibernation.

Editor’s note: March Is Fraud Awareness Month. The Vernon Community Policing Office is doing a series of articles this month alerting residents to the numerous scams going around on a daily basis. Today’s topic: Home renovation scams

RACHAEL ZUBICK

Special to The Morning Star

With the warm weather we have been experiencing many in our community seem to be shaking off winter and turning their minds to spring cleaning and home renovations.

The local hardware, garden shops and home improvement retailers have been busy.

Unfortunately, the home renovation and repair fraudsters will also come out of hibernation.

These scammers pose as fake contractors, landscapers or other tradespeople offering a good deal to do any job; minor or major home repairs, painting, deck building, window washing, or landscaping.

The fraudster shows up at your door and offers their service to you at a discounted or special rate.    Some will point out areas of the home or yard that may (or may not) look like it needs some attention.

The fraudster is friendly, appears to be “professional” and seems to know what they are talking about. They say all of the right words to get the victim to believe that they are legitimate.  In some cases the fraudster will write up a quote or even pull out a “contract” once a price is agreed upon.

In the most common scenario, the fraudster asks for a big portion of the money upfront.  Once they have the money, the victim never sees the scammer again.

In other instances, the work is begun and never finished or finished but poorly done.

What can you do?

Do not fall for high pressure tactics.  Take time to compare prices.  Get several quotes or estimates from other reputable businesses. Talk to friends that have recently had work done to find out who they would recommend.

Ask to see the “contractors” business license, qualifications and insurance documents.

Ask for and check references.

Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if your “contractor” has a business profile.

The best way to protect yourself is be wary of the door to door sales pitch.

Ask questions.  Know what you are paying for and who you are dealing with. Do not get trapped by a smooth-talking scammer.

If you do fall victim to a home renovation scam report it to the RCMP.

Contact the Canadian Antifraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or visit www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

Learn to be a well-informed consumer to better protect yourself.  There are some great websites that can help:

www.consumerhandbook.ca;

www.consumerprotectionbc.ca;

www.bbb.org/mbc.

The Vernon Community Policing Office will be holding a Frauds, Cons and Scams workshop Wednesday, with an 8:30 a.m. check-in and a 9 a.m. start at the Schubert Centre.  Seating is limited. Call the CPO at 250-550-7840 to register.

For further information contact Rachael Zubick, c-oordinator, Vernon Community Policing, 250-550-7840.