Refresh Your Knowledge of Springtime Scams

By Better Business Bureau

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Spring is the time when many people decide to give their homes a thorough cleaning. It's also the perfect time for scam artists to offer spring-cleaning services that take advantage of overwhelmed homeowners.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns homeowners and renters to be aware of the following "spring cleaning" scams:

Air Quality Survey

BBB is receiving consumer calls daily about telemarketers conducting an "air quality survey." A confusing and unclear phone call typically leads to a scheduled appointment for a salesperson to come to your home to perform an air quality test. In reality, the salesperson is coming to do a vacuum demonstration with the intention of selling you an expensive vacuum they claim will purify the air in your home.

Carpet Cleaning

If you plan to clean your carpet this season, you may want to carefully consider who'll do the job. Is it a do-it-yourself project or is it best left to a professional? Many reputable carpet-cleaning services exist, but it's also an industry where scammers prevail. Unscrupulous carpet cleaners are known for using bait and switch tactics. A company advertises carpet cleaning services at a low price. Once the workers arrive, they quickly suggest a more expensive treatment for cleaning your carpets or mid-way through cleaning (while you carpets are wet and soapy) they inform you it will cost much more than anticipated to finish.

Furnace Servicing

Be aware of a scam in which homeowners are duped into buying a new furnace or authorizing expensive, but unneeded repairs, to their existing heating system by contractors using scare tactics. In some instances, con artists may try to frighten you with warnings that your system is leaking dangerous gases, which could explode or poison those inside the house.

Extra Materials for Home Repair

A classic springtime scam comes in the form a surprise knock on the door from a contractor who happens to have materials left over from a recent nearby job. The contractor offers a cut-rate price on the materials and labour to fix up your home. These contractors are often fly-by-night operators or handymen who may or may not be qualified to perform the task. In many instances, the cost of labour and materials they offer is not always a good deal, the work they complete is sub-par and, while working at your home, they often suggest other unnecessary repairs they could do for you, for an additional cost.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim of spring-cleaning scams consider the following:

* Don't make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Take your time to do some comparison shopping before spending your money.

* Get estimates or quotes for labour and materials on a job from at least three reputable sources.

* Always research the contractor in advance. Visit to check out a business's BBB Reliability Report. Ask your friends, family or neighbours for referrals.

* Once you decide who'll help with your spring-cleaning project, get a written, signed agreement. Clearly outline what specific tasks will be performed, when they will be completed and what the total costs will be.

Make your spring-cleaning experience a refreshing one by choosing to work with people and businesses you trust.




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