Durham police have received recent reports of scams involving home repairs and maintenance. In one case, a woman said a man knocked on her door and offered to do jobs such as cleaning her gutters, pressure washing her house and trimming her hedges to earn money to pay his electric bill. The woman paid him and he did a little bit of the work. He told her he needed to leave to pay his electric bill and would return soon. The man never returned to finish the jobs she had paid him to do.
The American Bar Association provided the following home repair scam crime prevention tips:
- 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.
Anyone who has been the victim of one of these scams is asked to call the Durham Police Department’s Fraud Unit at (919) 560-4440.