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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, February 10, 2020

New Home Improvement Scam Targets Seniors

Con artists love to target seniors. One of the favorite scams of crooks is to rip off older adults on home improvements. Your home is your castle and your nest. You want to take care of your shelter and keep a secure roof over your head. Crooks know this, so they try to scare you into signing up for work that your house does not need. By all means, you should have necessary maintenance performed, but you will also want to watch out for these home improvement scams.

If your loved one has been scammed by an unscrupulous person, it can help to speak with an experienced California elder abuse attorney.

Common tactics of home improvement fraudsters:

  • Someone you do not know appears at your front door. He seems friendly and concerned. He says that he and his crew are making repairs for other people in your area, and he has a fantastic offer to do work on your house, driveway, or yard. He mentions a low price and justifies it by saying that he can afford the discount because several of your neighbors are having repairs done, so there is little travel expense.
  • A repair person tells you that you need work done. She tells you that if you do not have the job done right now, your house will sustain expensive damage, like water damage from a leaking roof.
  • You hire someone to do legitimate work. He claims to discover much more extensive problems and quotes you an astronomical repair bill.
  • With a homeowner who has cognitive issues or memory loss, a series of repair people working together take turns repeatedly doing the same work many times.

Tips for Spotting a Con Artist

Fraudsters can be charming and friendly at first. It is easy for an older adult to fall prey to these people. These tips can help you avoid being the victim of a home improvement scam:

  • If a stranger comes to your door, claiming to be a contractor, politely refuse the offered service. A contractor who does high-quality work will be too busy to wander the streets looking for jobs.
  • If someone calls you on the telephone offering an inspection, ductwork cleaning, driveway sealing, or other repairs or maintenance, hang up the phone. There are too many telephone scams now to take the risk.
  • Do not pay a stranger any money upfront, whether by cash, check, or credit card. He might insist that he needs the money for supplies to do the project, but he will likely never show up to perform the work, or he will not finish the job. At best, you will lose the money you paid. In some cases, these scammers use your checking account or credit card for themselves, withdrawing your money or running up charges in your name.
  • Set up a “buddy system,” in which anyone who wants to do work on your house must clear it through a trusted person, like your adult child or a friend who is a little younger than you. Having someone looking out for you can be all that it takes to prevent getting defrauded.

One final caution: be particularly hesitant of strangers who show up after a severe storm. Con artists bilk seniors out of millions of dollars after floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards. They coerce homeowners into signing over their insurance company payment, and then they disappear.

Schedule a consult with our California elder law attorneys to learn more. Our California elder law lawyers can help you protect your aging loved ones from scams aimed to harm them.


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