The warm weather brings everyone out of hibernation—including scammers. Reports of scams and deception burglaries typically increase during spring and summer months. Residents should use the following tips to avoid being victimized, and share this information with family, friends, and neighbors, especially senior citizens, who are sometimes targeted for scams.
Scammers often will take your money and do shoddy work, or never do the work at all, or may pose as utility workers.
Common types of scams include:
- Driveway paving and resealing
- Tree trimming and removal
- Utility service for gas or water problems
- Roof repairs or inspection
Sometimes criminals are looking to distract you—one keeps you occupied while the other sneaks into your house. If someone seems eager to look inside your home, or seems to be trying to distract you, close and lock the door and call 911. Non-emergency solicitor complaints should be directed to 410-313-2200.
If you need work done in your home, follow these tips:
- Request references from prospective contractors
- Be suspicious of unsolicited offers and services
- Don't feel pressured to decide on the spot
- Ask to see contractors’ required license
- Always obtain a written contract for the work
- Don't share personal or financial information with prospective contractors
- Verify the phone number and physical location of the business before agreeing to any work
- Jot down the license plate of the company vehicle, just in case
While some reputable companies do offer their services door-to-door, they are required to possess a Howard County peddler and solicitor card. Residents should request to see this ID in addition to a company ID.
To report an unregistered salesperson, or get more information about shopping for home improvement services, contact the Howard County Office of Consumer Protection by phone at 410-313-6420 or by e-mail at [email protected].
Still have your doubts? Contractors and landscapers must be registered through Maryland state agencies. Ask for their license numbers and verify through the Maryland Department of License and Regulation using their Licensing Queries function at http://www.dllr.state.md.us/pq/.