Engaging the services of a gutter repair company can be a disconcerting task for many people. Sure, they want to locate a company they can trust and that will perform the job adequately for a reasonable price. But one of the biggest fears among homeowners is being swindled by a gutter repair scam — and losing their hard-earned money in the process.
It would be nice to think that gutter repair scams never happen … but that wouldn’t be true.
- A woman in Sioux Falls, South Dakota asked a man clearing trees in a neighbor’s yard if he could repair her gutters after a recent storm. He said that he would need $1,700 as a down payment, and she wrote him a check — but never heard from the man again; even after the check was cashed.
- A Baltimore County, Maryland woman almost had something similar happen to her. A strange man rang her doorbell, told her that her husband gave him permission to clean her gutters, and asked for $30. She sent the man away without money, checked with her husband, and called police.
- A Portland, Oregon-area “handyman” has reportedly scammed multiple homeowners. His M.O. is offering roof repair services, then ripping out existing gutters and replacing them with flimsy materials. Then he tries to bully elderly homeowners into giving him more money to finish the job.
- An 83-year old Croydon, England man with cataracts was duped by a man who came to the door and pointed out the homeowner’s leaky gutters. The suspect asked for 250 pounds in exchange for repairing them, but apparently did no work at all after being paid.
Gutter repair scammers use different tactics and operate in varying ways, but they all have one thing in common: their goal is to get money from their victims while doing little or no work. So here are some common-sense measures to take to avoid becoming their next victim.
- Don’t agree to have your gutters repaired “on the spot.”
- Never allow work on your home to begin without getting an agreement in writing.
- Never give money to a door-to-door gutter repairmen for work to be done at a later date.
- Do not concern yourself if someone takes offense when you decline their offer of work.
- Don’t fall for any “today-only” discounts that pressure you into agreeing to a repair contract without looking it over.
- Always check out the finished work before agreeing to pay a gutter repairman.
- Never write a check out to an individual; only a company.
- Never, ever pay for gutter repairs in cash.
- Figure out where a contractor’s home office is — and make sure that the business actually exists.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for references … or to follow up on them.
- Ask to see a contractor’s licensing information (if they are required to be licensed in your area).
- Don’t feel ashamed about calling the Better Business Bureau and/or your local police if you are worried about being a scam victim.
- If you feel even a little uncomfortable about a gutter repair contractor, just refuse his services — even if you’re not completely sure that the person is a scammer.