COLUMBUS, OH – September 3, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today is warning Ohioans to watch for traveling scam artists offering roof repair, driveway paving and sealing, and tree trimming.
“We’ve received at least one report of suspected travelers in Clinton County,” Attorney General DeWine said. “With just a few weeks of summer left, we don’t want to take any chances. We’re warning all Ohioans to be skeptical of anyone who shows up unexpectedly offering home repairs.”
“Travelers,” as they’re known by law enforcement, are professional con artists who typically make their way through Ohio and other northern states during the summer months. They provide a verbal estimate to pave driveways or repair roofs for a very low price, but they intentionally deceive homeowners by charging a lot more money in the end and do extremely shoddy work.
Travelers often target middle-class homeowners, especially those over age 60. Travelers generally dress professionally, speak politely, and drive well-maintained vehicles, which gives homeowners the false impression that they are trustworthy.
In many cases, travelers lie to homeowners, telling them their driveway or roof needs to be repaired. They often tell homeowners that they just finished paving their neighbor’s driveway and have asphalt left over that they are willing to sell for a very low price. Afterwards, they demand a much higher payment and the asphalt ends up cracking or failing to set properly, leaving the homeowner’s driveway a gooey mess. Other times, travelers “seal” a driveway or roof with a useless mixture of diesel oil and paint that will wash off in the rain.
Some travelers revisit their previous victims weeks later to offer phony follow-up repairs or more seal-coating. Again, the work is completely substandard, even if the victim does not realize it at the time.
Homeowners can protect themselves by learning to recognize the signs of a traveler, including contractors who:
- Come to their door uninvited
- Notice a problem with their roof or driveway
- Say they have leftover materials from a neighbor’s job
- Offer unbelievably low prices
- Accept cash or check only
- Promise an unconditional guarantee on the work
- Start work immediately
- Take only 30 minutes to an hour to finish the job
Consumers also should check a company’s reputation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau before paying any money. For most door-to-door sales, businesses must give consumers a three-day right to cancel their contracts and they cannot begin the work until the three-day cancellation period has ended.
Consumers who suspect a traveler scam should report it to local law enforcement and to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.
Dan Tierney — 614-466-3840
Mark Moretti — 614-466-3840