Home Improvement Scams
These scams have been increasing in frequency around the country and within Connecticut, resulting in large financial losses to residents. The criminals carrying out these scams typically target elderly, or vulnerable, victims with door-to-door solicitation in residential neighborhoods. They use a variety of fraudulent IDs and frequently move between towns or jump from state to state to avoid law enforcement.
Below is a list of the most popular scams:
Roof Repair Scam – Criminals tell the victim they were working in the neighborhood and noticed their roof needs some repairs. They use a variety of excuses, such as leftover materials from a different job, to explain why they will offer the victim a great deal. They then ask for cash or a check as an upfront payment, telling the victim they will come back at a later date and time to do the work. The checks are immediately cashed, and they never return to do the work. One variation of this scam involves criminals coercing people to file fraudulent insurance claims to get a new roof by claiming there was significant storm damage when in reality the contractors are the ones actually damaging the roof. These scams have increased over the last 10 years as there have been several significant storms in the area.
Chimney Repair Scams – Criminals will contact the victim via phone and offer them a great deal on chimney cleanings. If the victim is interested in their services, the scammers will go to the victim’s house for an inspection and find several additional issues. They will then try to scare the victim into agreeing to costly or unnecessary repairs by citing fire hazards, carbon monoxide dangers, dead animals found inside, loose bricks, and more. It should be noted that the scammers avoid applying for the necessary building permits, in an effort to stay anonymous and avoid getting flagged by building officials familiar with the scam.
Driveway Paving or Repair Scam – Criminals will show up with dump trucks, rollers, and spraying equipment and offer the victim a great deal on paving the driveway. In most cases, there is no site preparation, the material is applied very thin, and they often use “cold patch” which is designed to be used as a temporary repair job for potholes. Once the job is done they will often try and inflate the price by telling the victim they had to use more materials than they anticipated
Any solicitors going door-to-door in the Town of Woodbridge must first be registered and issued a permit to do so from the Police Department. All home improvement contractors and salesmen must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection. Offering to make and making home improvements (over $200) without registration is a crime. Additionally, scammers typically perform the work the same day they solicit the victims however.
Please remember to promptly report any scams or suspicious contracting propositions. Hesitation to do so often results in incidents being reported days or weeks after the fact, at which point in time the criminals have likely moved on and are in a different state.