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10 Ways to Avoid Gutter-Related Cons

By January 3, 2013October 16th, 2023No Comments

Lots of people despise the task of cleaning or repairing their gutters. So they’re always looking for someone else to take care of these chores for a reasonable fee. But where there are service providers, there are also scam artists. And unfortunately, there have been reports of gutter-related cons.

  • One man in Croydon, England was reportedly conned out of 250 pounds when a man came to his door and told him that the gutters on his home were leaking. An hour later, the suspect told the homeowner that the problem was fixed; but the homeowner’s wife came home later and found no evidence that any work had been done. The 83-year old homeowner has cataracts and could not verify that his gutters were leaking.
  • A woman in Baltimore County, Maryland told of how a man tried to con her out of $30. The man rang her doorbell and said that he had been cleaning the gutters of the home next door, and that her husband had told him that it was okay for her to pay the man to do her gutters as well. But the woman became suspicious and called police after sending the man away.
  • A “handyman” in the Portland, Oregon area has been targeting senior citizens. He reportedly offers to start repairing a homeowner’s roof, but then rips out the gutters and replaces them with flimsy plastic ones in order to boost his repair costs. The suspect also allegedly bullies homeowners into giving him more and more money … and then never finishes the job.

So how can you avoid falling victim to one of these gutter scams? Here are some tips:

  1. Never do business with anyone “on the spot” or pay for services to be rendered later. Don’t be concerned with offending door-to-door solicitors by telling them you’re not interested.
  2. Do not be swayed by some fantastic discount that’s only good for that day. It’s a common pressure tactic used by salespeople; and even if it’s legitimate, the deal is probably not that great anyway.
  3. When writing a check, never make it out to an individual. Write the name of the business on it instead. Putting a person’s name on the check makes it easier for con artists to cash it.
  4. Never pay cash for gutter services (unless you’re willing to get up on a ladder and see for yourself that the work has been done). Remember: a receipt from a fake businessperson is worthless.
  5. Ask to see information about the contractor’s license. If you’re told that gutter cleaners aren’t required to be licensed in your area, confirm that on your own before your hire them.
  6. Ask where their office is, and verify that it actually exists (by calling the number or checking an online map, for example). If it’s an individual working for himself, ask to see some type of proof of his business.
  7. Ask for references, and take the time to follow them up. Try to get references that are several months old.
  8. Never consent to a job before getting a written agreement. It’s also wise to wait a day before signing such an agreement in order to verify the legitimacy of the contractor.
  9. Don’t hesitate to call the police and/or the Better Business Bureau if you suspect that you have been scammed (or rebuffed a con artist).
  10. If you are the least bit uncomfortable with the contractor or the deal, don’t agree to it. Even if you’re not sure that the person is a scammer, it’s still okay to walk away.

Photo credits: carbonNYC, ToastyKen