Driveway Pavement ScamsFraudsters sometimes stop at homes that have older, unpaved, or cracked driveways. They use the condition of the driveway as a pressure point, suggesting that the driveway should look more like the driveways of the homeowner’s neighbors, or indicating that a better driveway would raise their home value. Scammers may try to pressure homeowners to make a snap decision before they have time to shop around, often by claiming that the “bargain” offer is only available if they act now. Fraudulent operators may be quick to disappear if a homeowner pays up front.
Home Improvement ScamsScam artists may offer to fix a window, repair a roof, or paint a house. If a homeowner pays for the work up front, the scammer may skip town, refuse to honor the deal, perform shoddy work, or stick the homeowner with an inflated bill. If the homeowner makes a partial payment up front, the scammer may strong-arm them into a contract, or do some limited work to get the homeowner to pay additional funds before the fraudster skips town.
Security Alarm ScamsEach summer, traveling crews come to Minnesota to sign people up for security alarms. Scammers may get their foot in the door by telling homeowners the alarm is “free,” discounted, or that they are with the homeowner’s current alarm company. They may scare consumers by talking about crime in the neighborhood. Scammers may ask homeowners to sign a contract that has print so small it is unreadable. In some cases, people have signed contracts requiring payments of up to $50 per month for five years for a security alarm that doesn’t work or that they don’t need.
Tips To Avoid Door-To-Door Home Improvement Scams
Don’t Fall for Pressure TacticsDoor-to-door home improvement scams try to trick you into acting immediately, before you have time to shop around. Legitimate companies that want your business allow you time to think about the offer, research your options, and shop around. It should raise red flags if a door-to-door salesman pressures you to make an immediate decision or pay cash in advance.
Ask for Identification and Research the BusinessYou should carefully research any business before allowing it to work on or in your home. Ask for license or permit information and whether the person is bonded. Under Minnesota law, door-to-door salespeople must clearly disclose to any potential buyer their name, the name of the business they represent, the goods or services they wish to sell, and provide an identification card with the sales person’s name and the name of the business.
Contact the Department of Labor and Industry and Your Local GovernmentMost residential building contractors must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Many municipalities also require contractors or door-to-door salespeople to hold a permit or license. Contact your local city, municipality, or county for more information on local regulations. Contact the Department of Labor and Industry as follows:
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry 443 Lafayette Road North St. Paul, MN 55155 (651) 284-5010 or (800) 342-5354 www.doli.state.mn.us