The Melrose Police Department is educating residents on how to avoid home improvement scams after two residents were met by individuals claiming they needed chimney sweeps.
“Home improvement scams such as those that claim homeowners need chimney repairs often prey on older people, initially offering low prices for the work but then increasing the prices as the scammers claim to find work. additional work that needs to be done,” Melrose Police said in a statement.
Scammers disappear and leave their work unfinished when homeowners refuse to pay upfront for increasingly expensive work, the statement continued.
The Melrose Police Department is actively investigating these incidents. Anyone who believes these scammers are in their neighborhood or has information about these incidents is encouraged to contact Melrose Police at 781-665-1212.
Melrose Police have released a list of characteristics of home improvement scams from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation to help residents recognize them along with advice on how to avoid scams.
- Scammers often approach victims by phone, email, or door-to-door, claiming they have done work locally.
- Scammers offer their services at a very low price.
- Request a business card or website address for the contractor’s business. Make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and use their home improvement contractor registration search service.
- Request a copy of the company’s standard contract.
- Beware if the person is driving an unmarked motor vehicle.
- Find out where the business is based and if it’s local.
- Ask if the company offers a warranty and how long it will last.
- Scammers will target potential victims of severe weather storms as an opportunity for home improvement scams.
- Never pay more than a third of the total cost of a service in advance and in cash. Only pay once you’ve verified the person is a registered home improvement contractor and a contract exists.
- The Better Business Bureau checks if the company is a member. It can also indicate whether any complaints have been filed against the company.
For more information on how to avoid home improvement contractor scams, visit the Massachusetts state government website.