Kingsport Times News Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Nick Shepherd

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As temperatures rise, scams begin to bloom

April 9th, 2014 9:49 pm by Nick Shepherd

As temperatures rise, scams begin  to bloom

It's that time again. Spring brings April showers, May flowers and the inevitable springtime scams.

One of the most prominent scams that takes place this time of year involves paving. Leslie Earhart, public information officer for the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, said the department sees scams pop up every year.

"We receive numerous reports of home-improvement scams each year," Earhart said. "Paving scams are the most common. Unfortunately, in many cases elderly residents are targeted."

While telephone based scams are still common, when the weather changes, officers warn people to be wary of unknown solicitors, especially offering work at a discounted price.

"One of the biggest scams to watch out for is when the contractor shows up at your door claiming to have a supply of leftover asphalt that he is going to have to throw out, so he will offer it to you at a discounted rate," said Tom Patton, public information officer for the Kingsport Police Department. "This is nearly always a scam."

Earhart added that sometimes the scammers will offer the discounted rate but raise the price as the job goes on, and if the victim argues about the price, the scammer will intimidate the person until they get more money.

Many times, the person will be left with a driveway that starts to crumble after only a week.

Patton and Earhart offered a few tips to avoid being scammed this spring.

  • Don't pay until the job is completed and never pay up-front.
  • Reputable contractors usually stay busy and don't have to go door-to-door soliciting work.
  • Check references before selecting a particular contractor.
  • Use a contractor that a relative or trusted friend has used satisfactorily before.
  • Get a written contract that states when the work will start and end and how much it will cost.
  • Both law enforcement agencies said to never let someone pressure you to pay or do work for you, and if you feel you are being pressured or scammed to contact law enforcement immediately.

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