Home Repair Fraud Alert

Recently in the Central Illinois area, including Chillicothe, there have been many incidents of home repair fraud.  Home repair fraud has become more prevalent in the area, especially with the state of the economy.  To help combat this fraud here are the most commonly used fraud/scams that have been circulating recently.  Not all door-to-door businesses are scams, but here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with door-to-door businesses.

  • Roofing and Siding – Roofing and siding scams can occur when you get a knock on your door saying there has been hail or wind damage in the area, when in fact, a lot of the time there has been no reports of hail or wind.
  • Seal Coaters and Rock Work – This is based on the same principle, a person knocking on your door often says that he/she just finished a larger job in the area and there are left over materials such as white rock.  The person will offer you a deal and once finished you will get a bill for a much higher rate.
  • Tree Work – There are also scams going around where the person will claim your trees or branches are a hazard in attempt to gain work from you.  Again, usually you are quoted one rate and charge a much higher rate.
  •  Free Cleaning Service – There has been more and more reports of people going door-to-door trying to sell cleaning products or to clean your house.  Many instances the person will offer to clean one room or piece of furniture for free and claim if you approve of the job they will charge for the rest of the home.  This is generally not a good idea as it allows total strangers to view or “case” your house, allowing them to take mental notes of your property.

Warning Signs

In general, most reputable contractors do not solicit door-to-door seeking business.  Usually they are advertised or passed around by word of mouth based on the work they do. 

If you are quoted at an extremely low rate and then billed an extremely high rate, that should be a warning sign that something isn’t right.

Be aware of someone contacting you and telling you that if the repairs need to be done immediately or your safety may be in danger.

If someone tries to pressure you into signing papers or talks extremely fast in an attempt to confuse you or drives an unmarked, non-company vehicle, or asks to be paid in full up front, something isn’t right.

What to do?
If one or more of these warning signs appear you should ask questions.  First have the person ask exactly what the job entails.  Ask what they are going to do and how they are going to do the job.  Ask for references.  Ask the person to leave contact information and tell them you will get back to them.  Remember no job needs to be done right then and there.  Tell them you want to get other quotes.  Above all, if you feel overhelmed call a friend, family member, or the police.

If you have any questions or feel you have been a victim of home repair fraud or any other fraud, call the Chillicothe Police Department at 274-2129 or E-mail us.

More resources can be found by going to the Illinois Attorney Generals website.