Older Pennsylvanians Warned to Be Cautious of Home Repair Scams

September 16, 2004

Secretary of Aging Nora Dowd Eisenhower has urged older Pennsylvanians to protect themselves against home-repair scams.

“Although it’s a good idea to fix problems around your home before winter arrives, you should treat with caution any individual who comes to your door uninvited and offers to do repairs around your home,” said Dowd Eisenhower. “It’s possible they have no intention of helping you and are only there to take your money.”

Door-to-door con artists are reportedly skilled at tricking older adults into believing they are there to help. They are confident, sincere and friendly and may exploit the fact that many older adults may need help around their home.

A safe and easy way to avoid door-to-door con artists is to never allow an unfamiliar person into one’s home. It is much easier to turn someone away than to get them out of the home once they are inside.

Other tips for avoiding home repair scams include:

* Avoid hiring contractors who offer reduced prices for using materials “left over” from an earlier project.
* Beware of contractors who will provide only an answering service or post office box as a means of contacting them.
* Shop around for at least three estimates from different contractors.
Before hiring a contractor, you should first ask for credentials or references and verify them.
* Carefully review any literature that was provided and take a few days to get the opinions of family or friends about the work one plans to have done.
* Always receive a written contract before allowing anyone to work on the home. The contract should include specifics about the work to be done, estimated completion date and schedule for payment.
Never make full payment in advance; make only a small down payment to cover the costs of materials and to ensure the job is completed to one’s satisfaction.

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