Date: March 1, 2000 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Sterling Ivey, 863 534-6377 or 819-0221 pager
Home Owners Cautioned to be Aware of Home Improvement Scams and Frauds

The Polk County Sheriff's Office Fraud Unit is reminding home owners - particularly those on the East side of the county to be aware of possible home improvement scams and frauds!

Beware of the con artist - or traveling groups of con artists - who offer to do the following common home improvement projects:

  • Repaving, resurfacing or building a new blacktop driveway
  • Repair your windows, screens, television or make other home repairs at an unbelievable price
  • Spray your roof

These types of home improvement projects are common scams for traveling swindlers who pose as legitimate businesses, but conveniently disappear when the job is over. Homeowners are left with defective and faulty products and repair jobs with no means of recovering their losses.

By following a few common sense precautions, chances of becoming a victim of fraud can be significantly reduced:

  • Do not hire anyone unless they can provide a copy of their Polk County occupational license and proof of liability insurance.
  • Request a written estimate on all home improvement offers and compare the prices. Con artists are notorious for charging a higher price for inferior materials and unnecessary repairs. Without a written estimate, victims get trapped into paying extremely high total costs when the job is finished.
  • Do not be rushed into a special bargain - often described as a one-time offer. Remember, if it sounds to good to be true - it probably is.
  • Do not pay for anything until all services are completed to your satisfaction.
  • Do not give out credit card numbers over the phone.
  • Report all suspicious offers to the Sheriff's Office immediately at 1-800-226-0344 or 533-0444.

The home improvement scheme is just one of many schemes that are used to swindle money from people. Confident persons or con-artists are experts in human behavior, and they will try to exploit their victim's ambitions and weaknesses. Their schemes often take advantage of a person's desire to get something for nothing.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office Community Services Section offers many free education and safety awareness programs to the community. For more information about these programs, call the Community Services Section at 534-0980.

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Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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