Handyman scam warning: Waynesboro Police

policeWith the onset of warm weather early this year, criminals who use this type of weather to scam citizens, usually seniors, out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars are coming out of the woodwork.

The ubiquitous “Handyman or Yard Work Scam” bilks homeowners for lots of money on needless repairs or yard work that usually leave the home in worse shape.

Last week, two senior citizens who live in the Wayne Hills neighborhood had a man come by unannounced and pressured them into having some landscaping work done.  He only cut a few bushes and trimmed a few branches.  One citizen in his 70’s was coaxed out of nearly $400 while another citizen in her 90’s was scammed out of $60.  They could not provide much of a description of the assailant or his vehicle.

To guard against home improvement scams, you may wish to recommend the following advice to your clients and family and friends:

  • Watch for contractors who come to your home unsolicited claiming that your home needs expensive repair work for damage that you never noticed. Common approaches involve work on   your chimney or driveway. These contractors often offer a special “deal” because they have material left over from another job in your neighborhood.
  • Never agree to have work done on the spot. Determine what you want done and seek qualified contractors.
  • Get at least two written estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services provided for the job.
  • Check references by contacting the Better Business Bureau, local licensing authorities, previous customers, banks, and suppliers.
  • Do not pay the full amount up front or other unreasonable advance sums. Negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of the job and pay by check. Do not pay with cash.
  • Get any promises in writing and make sure the project is thoroughly described in your contract. If you can, ask a lawyer to review the terms of the written contract before you sign.
  • Don’t be bullied or pressured. Call the police and get a license plate number if a door-to-door contractor won’t take “no” for an answer.

If you have been scammed out of money by a “handyman” or “landscaper,”  then contact your local police department or sheriff’s office to report it.

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