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After Rough Winter: Don't Get Fooled By Home Repair Scams

GRAPHIC: Consumer advocates warn that unscrupulous contractors are raking in billions from home improvement scams, and after the rough winter in New Hampshire, local scams are surfacing. The good news is you can protect yourself with a few simple steps. Graphic courtesy of AARP.
GRAPHIC: Consumer advocates warn that unscrupulous contractors are raking in billions from home improvement scams, and after the rough winter in New Hampshire, local scams are surfacing. The good news is you can protect yourself with a few simple steps. Graphic courtesy of AARP.
April 6, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. - Homes all across New England have weathered a rough winter, and many are now in need of repair. That's why local consumer watchdogs are warning residents to beware of scam artists offering steep home repair discounts.

Former FBI Agent Bob Denz says scam artists usually say they "happened to be in the neighborhood," and have a crew "available right now." It's a simple operation that he says rakes in billions of dollars each year nationwide from unsuspecting consumers.

"Those billions of dollars are very attractive to con artists trying to sell you a repair job," says Denz. "They often work in pairs, and the con artist needs to rush you into it. They'll offer a low-ball figure, but say 'you have to tell me now.'"

According to Denz, the Better Business Bureau ranks this home repair scam among the top 10 that are currently preying on consumers in New England and around the nation.

Denz is now a fraud fighter with AARP New Hampshire, and says seniors are at extra risk for this scam because many can no longer do the repairs themselves.

"The usual pitch is, 'I noticed when I drove by your driveway needs some urgent repair,' or a chimney needs repair, or a roof or a window. Trying to kind of scare you into it," he says. "And the second thing is 'I can get you a great deal now because I have everything available.'"

Denz says there are plenty of reliable contractors in New England, and it only takes a couple of steps to increase the odds you will get a good one.

"Make sure they have a license, and make sure that they get a recommendation from a neighbor or friend that did some repair work," he says. "And take your time, take your time."

Granite State residents can learn more about scams and sign-up for watchdog alerts at the AARP website at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH