To the editor:
It's that time of year when homeowners need to remember that con-artists are in our area looking for an easy way to make fast money through home improvement scams. Unfortunately, home repairs can often be daunting to many homeowners making them vulnerable to scammers. To add to the problem, the fraudster has often left the area before the unsuspecting victim realizes they have been left with an empty wallet and unfinished work.
Home Improvement scams of all types have been around for years and summer time is the perfect season for a sales pitch that goes something like this, "We are in your area today providing "free" inspections of ... " Unfortunately, consumers can fill in the blank as fraudsters will provide so-called "free" inspections on air conditioners, duct cleaning, roof repairs and just about anything that may need fixing "before a hurricane comes our way."
The Lee County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit encourages you to be on the lookout for traveling con-artists who:
- Peddle roofing, paving, and other repair work door-to-door
- Use high pressure sales tactics such as "today only" or "free" inspection"
- Say they have material left over from a previous job
- Quote "to good to be true" prices, which are well below typical bargain prices
- Ask for payment upfront to buy materials or request that the full amount be paid before work is done
- Drive vehicles with no company name and out of state plates. Do your "home" work before you begin a home improvement project or repair:
- Find a "reputable" contractor - referrals from friends, neighbors and co-workers are a great place to start
- Ask questions such as business license information, insurance, etc. or better yet, check for yourself at www.myfloridalicense.com
- Write down the vehicle make, model and license plate number
- Insist on a written contract detailing the work to be done
- Get a reliability report from the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org
If you have questions regarding these home improvement safety and security tips or if you would like to report a fraud or scam, contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office Fraud Line at 239-477-1242. To arrange to have someone come out to your community to talk about this or another safety or security topic please contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Community Relations Section at (239) 477-1400.
Lehigh Acres Community Initiative