As a result of a recent scam that led to stories from others who have also been scammed, I feel the urgent need to share an important warning, especially to many of my elderly friends to help you avoid being scammed. There are also ways to protect your friends from being scammed as well. That’s one reason I’m writing this post. Am I embarrassed? Absolutely. But I will not allow the scammers to win. I will admit to my failure so I can expose their cruelty.
As I have lost sleep over the past month, trying to think about ways I could have prevented this, I have come up with this list of things I could have or should have done, Some I knew before and didn’t pay attention to…to my peril.
6 Ways to Avoid Scams
- Put a “no solicitors” sign on your front door. If they come, turn them away. They are interfering with your space. Be firm.
- Have a policy that you never purchase a service for your home without at least 2 bids. This protects you from scammers and impulse purchases. It gives you time to check with friends to get a second price. I recently needed electric work done at my home. The first price was something like $5000-$6000 more than the second price! Make sure they know they are competing. It may help you get a better price. In my case, it turned out I didn’t need nearly the complicated work the first place said I did.
- Never, ever pay for the work that is done before it is completed. You may need to pay for some of it if materials need to be purchased. But if the work is not done to your satisfaction, do NOT pay the full amount until they have done what they said they would do. (Can you believe I broke this rule? I still can’t believe it!)
- Make sure there is a written contract for the work to be done. Make sure it is clear what is to be done, finishing date, when debris will be cleared away, and by whom. It would be wise to record the conversation where promises are made regarding what is going to be done. It is easy to do on your phone. These days it is not uncommon to have to go to court. The more clear everything is in that contract, the better it is for you if things go south.
- Make sure you talk to trusted family members or close friends to give you wisdom when making these large purchases. There is always wisdom in other brains to help you make these decisions.
- If you discover you have been scammed, the worst thing you can do is to keep it a secret. Yes, it is embarrassing. You feel dumb. But you must tell others about this lousy company that scammed you and report them to all the appropriate places. report them to whatever place are appropriate. Better Business Bureau, possibly the Police Department, other city Departments that are appropriate. It is possible that a reporter will be able to assist you as well. It isn’t always possible to get your money back, but you can warn others against the company on your social media pages, I have even seen people put signs in their yards against the company. It all depends on what you were promised and what wasn’t done.
I don’t know the statistics on scams of the elderly, but I’m sure they are worse than those on record since they are under-reported.
There are too many sad stories associated with scams. Sometimes family members discover their loved one was scammed after they die. It results in less or no inheritance. If the scam was known about when they were alive, the family could have gone after the scammer. Now, they have no idea who it was or when it happened,
Other stories are sad in that widows or women with ailing husbands are preyed on either by mail, internet or through housing repair schemes that are paid for and never done, not done right, or done partially. They are often overpriced as well.
This is why your church body can be helpful to you. After telling my family about my stupidity, I also asked my deacons for help. That is, once I realized the company was not going to come through for me. They came over yesterday and today to chainsaw these large pieces of trees apart into pieces small enough to move. Then they moved them to the curb. But they are also doing some work behind the scenes in terms of reporting the company, etc.
Find out from friends and family where you need to lodge complaints
It is doubtful I have a case to make this right in court. But complaints can be made to Better Business Bureau, probably the city depending on local laws, etc. There are times a police report can be made. It all depends on the situation. If appropriate, having a police report on file is good. It is a record that something did happen. I’m told that there were about 50 people affected in our neighborhood. I have no idea if it is true.
I spoke with a neighbor a few blocks away who is going to attempt a lawsuit on the basis of the young person working with this group. He felt certain there was a kid working there who was underage. I thought it was an interesting approach. He was like me. He knew he shouldn’t pay the final money, but he was hoping they would do the right thing and they were mostly done. Once he paid them, he knew he shouldn’t have.