Advertisement

Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Sask. warns of contractor scams

Click to play video 'Driveway contractor scams on the rise, prompting warning from consumer affairs' Driveway contractor scams on the rise, prompting warning from consumer affairs
Men work on fixing local driveway.

REGINA – As the weather warms up, many will head outside to work on their yards and driveways. But if you are planning to hire someone else to do the work, watch out.

The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA) is warning that contractor scams are on the rise. Specifically, driveway repair.

Last year a man made his way through 10 different Saskatchewan towns, selling door-to-door drive way repairs.

“They come in, they move quickly from town to town before they can get in trouble with any locals,” FCAA Communications Specialist Matthew Barton said.

Unlike some scams that target the elderly, or recent immigrants, anyone can be a target. Ten towns may seem like a lot, but according to Better Business Bureau CEO Karen Smith, that’s not even the half of it.

Story continues below advertisement

“We calculate on a system wide basis, it’s probably 95 per cednt under reported,” Smith said.

She says most people are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit they have been ripped off. The thieves are personable, seem professional and may even look you right in the eye as they lie.

“Slow down the pitch of the sale, ask for proof of license, find out if they’ve got the direct sellers license and really look out for those red flags,” Barton explained.

Saskatchewan Express, a not-for-profit musical theatre studio in the Cathedral area, was approached by a scammer back in September. A man told staff he was working on a large project nearby, had extra materials and would do their driveway at a discounted price.

Artistic Director and General Manager Carol Gay Bell told Global News that they thought about it, but after doing some research decided he was not a reputable source.

The FCAA say’s the ‘extra material’ story is a scammers number one sales pitch and your first red flag.

“The pros, they know exactly how much material they need, they usually don’t leave that much stuff left over,” said Barton

Gloss Works has an A+ accreditation according to the Better Business Bureau, and when owner Curtis Brown was asked if he ever has extra material he laughed.

Story continues below advertisement

“Pretty much never … in the name of saving money for the customer, we will only order what we need and at the end of the job there’s usually not much left over,” Brown said.

Brown added that good business is about being transparent.

“We actually encourage them to go do some research on us, go check out the Better Business Bureau.” [BLOCK WORDS]

Another red flag is when a homeowner is asked to pay in full and upfront.

“A fair percentage to pay upfront is 10 per cent and then there should be an additional 10 per cent you hold back after work has been completed,” explained Barton.

If you aren’t convinced your driveway work was done properly you can legally wait up to 40 days to pay the remaining 10 per cent of the agreed price.

Story continues below advertisement

When it comes to door-to-door salesman the FCAA says you should always check to make sure they have the proper license under the Direct Sellers Act. Accreditation listing can be found on their website:

http://www.fcaa.gov.sk.ca/fcaa411/.