As the summer heats up, you notice things about your house that need repair. Especially if you own an old house, the maintenance seems never-ending! Driveways are one of those major investments that need attention every ten years or so.
As the summer advances, you may notice scammers targeting older homeowners in your neighborhood. Every year, it seems there are more businesses out to take advantage of elderly homeowners – chimney repairs, magazine subscriptions, alternative energy contracts, lawn mowing and landscaping, house painting, roofers and gutter installers. Most businesses are honest and reliable, but today, we are going to talk about the traveling pavers.
Driveways will start to crack and split up as the weather gets more humid. If you decide to repair the driveway, there are a few things to remember.
Traveling pavers will frequently visit you and offer to fix up the cracked driveway immediately with a discounted price to be fully paid in cash. They may tell you that they have “extra material” from a job nearby. Or that the “deal” is only good today. If this should happen, please do not let anyone into your home and do not say yes. Honorable pavers will not require you to pay in cash, or to make a deal that is “only good today.”
Traveling pavers have been known to look through the local obituaries in order to find widows, telling them that their husband had contracted them previously to do the job. Some prey on streets of older homes in working-class neighborhoods, supporting their work with references from members of the community. These are often not true.
So far this year, there have been over 350 nationally reported scams (to the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission) regarding home improvement. Many of these incidents include consumers paying an illegitimate contractor/paver a deposit without a contract and they never return to begin the repair work, taking your money with them. To avoid being scammed by illegitimate pavers, here are a few tips to help you make smart choices:
- Find a local paving contractor if your driveway needs repair; talk to friends, family and neighbors for referrals.
- Verify that the contractor is registered in Connecticut as a home improvement contractor by contacting the Department of Consumer Protection.
- Check with your town for any required permits, and have them in place before work begins.
- Have your contractor provide all warranties and guarantees in writing, BEFORE the agency provides services.
- Always get a signed and dated contract for paving work, with all of the language required by law, since it will protect you from potential damages or misunderstandings.
- You have a three-day notice of cancellation that allows you to change your mind; make sure you know how to contact the company to cancel if you want.
To verify a contractor’s registration, and see the requirements for home improvement contracts, please visit the Department of Consumer Protection website at www.ct.gov/dcp or www.elicense.ct.gov. You can also call the agency at 860-713-6110, or toll-free at 1-800-842-2649.
To file a complaint, you can email the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other questions, call the hotline at 860-713-6300.
Scammers and fake businesses never have your best interest at heart, and they are looking to take advantage of people on a daily basis. Knowing all your facts will keep the scammers away, and you will no longer worry about paying real money for fake repairs!
Stay safe and pass this information on to family and friends!
This article was written by Catherine Blinder, chief education and outreach officer of the Department of Consumer Protection of the State of Connecticut. To learn more about how the Department of Consumer Protection can help, visit us online at www.ct.gov/dcp.