DuBois, PA – As the temperatures are warming back up and people are starting new projects on their homes, police are warning you to be on the lookout for scams and con artists.
Captain Wayne C Kline, Commanding Officer, Pennsylvania State Police, Troop C, would like to remind residents that the coming of spring typically means the potential for an increase in crimes relating to scams and con artists.
Actors have been known to target our area in the spring, offering unbelievable deals on home improvement services like driveway paving, driveway sealing, house painting and lightning rod sales and installation. Local businessmen have also had problems in the past with actors canvassing our area selling shop tools such as engine lifts and heavy-duty presses. Actors offer an inferior product for a price that is just below that of a good new quality product. You think you can save a little money, but in reality, you are not getting a product that meets the standard you expect.
Actors will sometimes commit crimes we call home invasions. In a criminal act such as this, actors will most often work in pairs; one will keep you busy while the other goes through your house looking for valuable items and money. These crimes will sometimes start with the actors posing as utility workers. They may ask to check your basement, when you take one of them downstairs the other has access to your entire house.
When anyone asks to gain entry to your home, demand to see photo identification; all utility workers must carry photo ID. It is also recommended that you call the company of any worker that needs to enter your home. One way that people have entered many homes is to simply knock on the door and ask for a glass of water. Many good-hearted people will let an unknown person come in for a drink. Once inside, con artists have many ways to distract you so they can remove many valuables or they will just look around and return when you are not home and burglarize your house.
Phone scams can be easily committed on the unsuspecting person. Keep in mind that phone scam artists are smooth talkers, meaning they can talk you out of information without you realizing what information you gave them. Everybody knows that it is dangerous to give out a credit card number; however, if the proper person gets a little personal information about you, they have the ability to commit one of the most popular crimes of today, identity theft. Victims of identity theft have been milked out of many thousands of dollars and in some cases have spent years trying to get problems associated with this crime straightened out.
Some tips to help avoid becoming a victim would be; when getting work done to your house find a contractor with references and check them out.
Live by the theory if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
These crimes can be committed against anybody; however, it appears the primary target is the elderly.
Always lock your doors when doing yard work, getting mail, or anytime you go outside – both front and back doors.
Never allow strangers inside your home.
Check with the utility company by telephone if an employee wants to enter your home, or wants you to come outside with them. If you do not see any identification, ask for it, however, these criminals have become adept at making their own ids and each individual’s identification should be verified with their respective company.
Beware of unsolicited home repairmen. If you need the services of a home repairman, check with your municipality’s building officials or the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are legitimate. Verify that the contractor is properly licensed, bonded, and insured.
Be suspicious of high pressure sales tactics.
Pay by check so you can stop payment if dissatisfied. Further, make sure the salesperson has provided you with the proper “notice of cancellation” form as required under the Federal Trade Commission’s “Three Day Cooling off Rule” for contracts signed in the home. Under the Cooling-Off Rule, you have three days to cancel purchases made of $25.00 or more when the sale occurred in your home, workplace/ dormitory, or at facilities rented by the seller on a temporary or short-term basis.
Be sure the work is completed to your satisfaction before you make final payment. Require a guarantee on the work.
Never sign any contract or agreement without carefully checking it. Be sure you understand and agree to all provisions in a contract or agreement.
Write down the plate number of any suspicious vehicle they may be operating. Try and get a good physical description of anyone who comes to your door.
CALL THE POLICE TO REPORT THE INCIDENT IMMEDIATELY! Never be too embarrassed to report that you’ve been victimized or swindled. Individuals who have suffered a loss may be eligible for assistance through their county office of victim services at the courthouse.