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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Spring cleaning and repair scams

Erin T. Dodge

Spring has arrived. So have salespeople who are walking neighborhoods, knocking on doors and offering to clean floors, empty gutters, fertilize lawns, trim trees and repair homes. When salespeople show up on your doorstep unexpectedly, determining the scammers and thieves from the legitimate can be tricky.

Spring cleaning and repair scammers may use some of the following tactics:

Contractors, and those pretending to be, claim to have finished a nearby job early and have left-over materials. They offer home improvement for cheap.

A contractor or handyman insists that you tour your home’s exterior with them to spot damage. Meanwhile, his associates get inside your home to steal valuables.

The salesperson at your door is pushy or claims that an offer is limited.

They ask for cash up front to purchase materials. If you pay, they disappear, never to return.

Someone offers you free gutter cleaning. However, once working on your home, they purposely damage your chimney or roof fascia and offer to repair it for a hefty fee.

The person at your door offers free floor cleaning. The crew uses sub par cleaners, damaging your floor and referring to a floor supplier. Or they scout for valuables to steal at a later time.

Better Business Bureau offers the following advice for avoiding good weather door-to-door scams:

Don’t take their word that they are who they say. Check out businesses at www.bbb.org. Also check for businesses licensed in Washington state at http://bls.dor.wa.gov/licensesearch/ and verify contractors at https://secure.lni.wa.gov/verify/.

Don’t pay upfront fees in full for any job. Pay using a credit card in order to be protected by the Far Credit Billing Act.

For large repairs, get three or four quotes, references and a contract detailing everything.

The federal and state Three-day Cooling-Off Rules will allow you cancel the contract for many door-to-door purchases. However, Saturday is considered a business day and exceptions do exist. For more information on the Washington state law, visit http://1.usa.gov/2511qff. Check out exceptions to the federal rule at http://1.usa.gov/1sKQTD9.

File a complaint if someone has tried to take advantage of you by contacting the Washington State Attorney General’s Office at www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint; with BBB at www.bbb.org/eastern-washington; and with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

To check out scams that have occurred in your area or to report a scam, visit the BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker or call (509) 455-4200.

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