Don’t get blown away by air duct cleaning scam
By Attorney General Roy Cooper
Warm weather is finally here and many homeowners are doing some spring cleaning. Scammers may try to take advantage of your desire to keep your home in good shape by offering what sounds like a great deal but turns out to be a rip off.
Recently, scammers have used illegal robocalls offering cheap air duct cleaning for heating and air conditioning systems to try to worm their way into homes.
These con artists will give a fake name and promise service for $69. But when crews arrive, they come up with reasons why the cleaning will cost more. They claim you have too many air ducts or an unconventional system. Suddenly the cost balloons to $1,000.
Sometimes the scammers go as far as to tell you there’s toxic mold in your duct work and you must leave the house immediately so they can fix it. They’ll do a few dollars’ worth of work and then bill you $5,000 or more.
Home repair scammers often move around, making them difficult to catch. But we’ve been able to use complaints from consumers like you to track down some of these con artists and win money back for victims. We recently stopped a Wake County roofer from taking money upfront from homeowners and never completing promised work, and helped put a notorious paving scammer we’d chased for years in federal prison.
If you’ve been approached by a home repair scammer, report it to us at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM and to local law enforcement.
To stop problems before they start, remember these tips when hiring someone to work on your home:
Watch out for unsolicited offers. Avoid contractors who knock on your door or call you to pitch their services. Be highly skeptical if a contractor comes to your door and claims to have noticed a problem with your home that needs to be fixed right away. The repair may not even be necessary.
Shop around. If you want work done on your home, begin by looking for the right person or company to do the job. Ask friends and family for recommendations, and check out companies with our office and your local Better Business Bureau. Try to get at least three written estimates from reputable contractors.
Get a written contract. It should clearly state the work to be performed, estimated start and completion dates, the quality of the materials to be used, and the total cost including labor and materials. The contract should also state who is responsible for cleanup and trash removal once the job is done.
Second thoughts? Know your rights. If you signed a contract at your home and not at the contractor’s place of business, North Carolina law gives you three business days to cancel it.
Don’t pay upfront. Try to avoid making any payments before the work begins. A reasonable down payment may be required for some projects, but don’t pay anything without a signed contract. If possible, make payments as the work is completed. Never make a final payment until you are satisfied with the job.