June 27, 2010
Homeowners should look out for groups of traveling scam artists offering roof repair, driveway paving and sealing and other summertime home upkeep, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray warns.
"Known by law enforcement as 'travelers,' these professional thieves make their way through Ohio and other northern states in the summer months," Cordray said. "They offer to pave driveways or repair roofs for a very low price, but they intentionally deceive homeowners and do extremely shoddy work."
Travelers often target middle-class homeowners, especially those over 60. Travelers generally dress professionally, speak politely and drive well-maintained vehicles, giving homeowners the false impression that they are trustworthy.
In many cases, travelers lie to homeowners, telling them their driveway or roof needs to be repaired. They work quickly, paving a driveway in less than an hour. Later, the asphalt will crack or will fail to set properly, leaving the homeowner's driveway a gooey mess. Other times, travelers "seal" a driveway or roof with a useless mixture of diesel oil and paint that will wash off in the rain.
Weeks later, some travelers revisit their previous victims to offer phony follow-up repairs or more seal-coating. Again, the work is completely substandard, even if the victim does not realize it.
Homeowners can protect themselves by learning to recognize the signs of a traveler, including contractors who:
Come to their door uninvited
Notice a problem with their roof or driveway
Say they have leftover materials
Offer unbelievably low prices
Accept cash or check only
Promise an unconditional guarantee on the work
Start work immediately
Take only 30 minutes to an hour to finish the job
Consumers also should check a company's reputation with online review sites, their local consumer affairs office or their state's attorney general's office and the Better Business Bureau before paying any money.