Montana Department of Justice Warns Consumers About Home Repair Scams
A recent bout of heavy storms and mountain snow may have pushed summer back a couple of weeks in parts of the state, but Attorney General Tim Fox’s Office of Consumer Protection has already heard about door-to-door home repair scams that pop up in Montana every summer.
“Every year, almost like clockwork, my office starts hearing about these paving scams at the beginning of summer,” Attorney General Fox said. “Not every person who comes knocking on your door is a scammer, but when it comes to driveway pavers or other home repairs, I urge people to be wary, especially if the salesperson can’t provide you with simple references from the local community.”
Each June, the Office of Consumer Protection sees an upward trend in calls about home repair scams that include driveway asphalt and seal-coating work, roofing, siding and other storm-related repair work. These scammers often employ high pressure door-to-door sales tactics. Some may even distribute flyers and put up billboard advertisements in order to solicit business.
As an example, in recent years, Montana consumers in several communities along the I-90 corridor have complained that salespeople have come to their home saying they have leftover asphalt from another nearby job and can therefore offer a low price and a lifetime warranty. The cons are typically based outside of Montana and often move on to another community before the tar dries on their last victim’s driveway.
Attorney General Fox added, “Consumers should be cautious any time they employ a contractor to do repair work on their property—but they should be especially cautious when someone approaches them at their home uninvited. Senior citizens need to be especially careful, as they’re often the targets of scammers who want to fleece them out of several thousand dollars.”
The Office of Consumer Protection’s website at https://doj.mt.gov/consumer/ has helpful tips for choosing any contractor. Tip offs of fly-by-night home repair and improvement cons include:
• Arrival in an unmarked truck or van;
• Door-to-door salespeople claiming, “We’ve just finished a job nearby and have material left over so we can do your job for half the price;”
• High-pressure sales tactics;
• Demands for up-front payment;
• Refusal to give you a written estimate, contract or references;
• Very low bids; and
• The ability to “start tomorrow” on your project.
Before signing any contracts, if consumers are concerned about becoming a victim of this type of scam, they are encouraged to contact the Montana Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500. Consumers can also sign up for free scam alerts at: https://doj.mt.gov/consumer/scam-alerts/.