STONEHAM — Chief James McIntyre and the Stoneham Police Department wish to warn residents of an area home improvement scam.
Victims of the home improvement scam have reported to several area police departments that the suspects request payment for their services upfront, and perform a small portion of the work before claiming that additional work to the home needs to be done, such as repointing a chimney or replacing shingles. The individuals continue to raise the price of their services as they claim additional projects need to be done, and when the homeowner eventually refuses to pay any more money, the suspects leave the property and do not return.
The suspects pose as legitimate contractors and reportedly have an Irish accent, but are allegedly not licensed and do not obtain permits to conduct the work.
Four Burlington residents reported being victimized by home improvement scams, and suspects allegedly did damage to the chimney of a Melrose resident’s home that will cost more than $1,200 to repair.
Most victims of the scams are elderly.
“While we haven’t had any reports of these suspects approaching Stoneham residents, we want to be proactive and warn our community of this scam that has targeted individuals in several nearby towns,” Chief McIntyre said. “We’re urging residents to be wary of anyone approaching you at home to perform unsolicited home improvement services. Always verify a business is legitimate, especially before paying for a service, and call the Stoneham Police Department if you think you may be dealing with a scam.”
The Stoneham Police Department wishes to share the following tips regarding home improvement contractor scams from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:
- Scammers often approach potential victims for home improvement scams by phone, email or by traveling door-to-door, and may claim they’ve been performing work locally and have surplus material.
- Scammers frequently offer their services at a very low price.
- Check to make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by using their home improvement contractor registration look up service. Request a business card or website address for the contractor’s business.
- Be wary if the individual is driving an unmarked motor vehicle.
- Request a copy of the company’s standard contract.
- Learn where the company is based out of, whether they are a local business and verify a minimum of three references.
- Inquire about whether the company will provide a warranty and how long that warranty will last.
- Remain wary if a severe weather event has just occurred. Scammers often take severe weather storms as an opportunity to target potential victims for home improvement scams.
- Never pay more than one-third the total cost of a service upfront, in cash, and only do so once you have verified that this person is a registered home improvement contractor and you have a contract.
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB) can verify whether the company is a member, and the BBB, as well as the Office of the Attorney General, can also tell you if there have been complaints filed against the company.
Anyone who believes these suspects are in their neighborhood is encouraged to contact the Stoneham Police Department at 781-438-1215.