March Scam of the Month: Contractor Fraud

Spring is the season for home repair and home improvement. Some older homeowners may have a hard time physically and/or financially maintaining their homes. It is because of this that they are targeted by scammers. Most contractors are honest and hardworking but how can you tell? Here are five ways to identify if a contractor is trying to defraud you.

1. “You’ll Need to Pay First”
According to the Better Business Bureau, this is the most common scam reported. The contractor will tell you that materials and equipment need to be ordered. Once you hand over the money, a couple things can happen. One, they disappear. Two, they complete the work carelessly and haphazardly.

2. “Trust Me”
You have hired your contractor, you have sat down and discussed what work you want done and your expectations and the contractor agrees. Now it is time to sign the agreement. You notice some of the details and upgrades are not included. The contractor tells you to “trust me”; it will be taken care of. The next thing you know, the work is not done. Now the contractor tells you that he did not include those extras in the quote he gave you and you will have to pay more money.

3. “We Don’t Need a Permit”
Any significant construction project is required to have building permit. This allows officials to visit occasionally to ensure the work meets safety codes. Dishonest contractors will tell you that a permit is not required. Others will try to have you take out a homeowner’s permit. That would mean lying to authorities about who was doing the work and make you responsible for monitoring the inspections.

4. Unexpected Problems
The construction has started or even finished and suddenly the contractor tells you there were unforeseen issues like termites and now the price has skyrocketed. Sometimes additional fees are legit, but other times dishonest contractors will bid very low to get their foot in the door and then increase the cost later.

5. Extra Materials
This fraud usually comes from paving companies or roofers or painters. They tell you that they have extra materials and they can perform the work dirt-cheap. A couple things can happen. One, they actually do not do the work and take off with your money. Two, they start the work and the job is more involved than they thought and it will cost even more. Third, the work is completed carelessly and in one year your roof is leaking or driveway cracking.

The Legal Aid Society of Middle TN has a detailed booklet about what you need to know before repairing or remodeling your house. Legal Aid Home Repair Booklet. Here are just a few suggestions on how to keep from being a victim of contractor fraud

  • Hire contractors currently licensed from the TN Board of Licensing contractors. Call 1-800-544-7693 to verify the license. You can also ask the Board if they have had any complaints.
  • Ask the Board if the contractor has paid the insurance bond. This will protect you if the company goes out of business or does shoddy work.
  • Use word of mouth. Ask friends, neighbors, etc. for suggestions who did great work.
  • Ask for references and verify those references.
  • Avoid using a contractor that only has a PO Box or answering service.
  • Call the BBB at 615-242-4222 or TN Consumer Affairs Division at 615-741-4737 to see if any complaints have been filed
  • Always get more than one bid from different contractors
  • Never hire “on-the-spot”
  • Never accept a verbal agreement. Always get a written agreement/contract.
  • The contract should not have blank spaces.
  • The contract should include the license number, address and phone numbers, what work is to be done, what kind of materials, estimated completion date, cost, how you will pay, and if there is interest to be paid.
  • Read the contract
  • Never pay cash

Sources: Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and www.houselogic.com

Property Tax Freeze/Relief Program’s Deadline Fast Approaching!

The deadline is approaching for Nashville property tax assistance programs!
Visit these sites to get help applying for tax assistance:

March 4, from 2 to 4PM at the Farmer’s Market
March 11, from 10AM to 12:30PM at the south precinct of the Metro Nashville Police Department
March 25, from 10:30AM to 1:30PM at First Baptist Church of East Nashville

Jury Duty Scam on the Rise

Recently, in Metro Nashville and Davidson County, there has been an increase in the Jury Duty Scam.  The FBI first issued a warning about this swindle in 2006.
In this particular situation, a scammer calls and pretends to be a cop or a court officer and says that you have failed to report to jury duty and a bench or arrest warrant has been issued. To resolve the problem, the caller tells you that you will need to provide private information to “verify” your identity. Your birthdate, social security number, etc. or you can pay a fine to “cancel” the warrant. HANG UP! This is a scam!
Court officers typically correspond with prospective jurors by mail and they will NOT call asking for confidential information or for payment over the phone.
 
A Metro Nashville & Davidson County government website, http://juryduty.nashville.gov/, has also issued a warning on their jury duty page cautioning prospective jurors to disregard these scammers’ attempts and to report it by calling Metro Police Dept. non-emergency line at 615-862-8600.
Tips to protect yourself:
  • Never give out personal information like social security numbers, DOB, etc.
  • Never give out financial information like bank account numbers or credit card information
  • Do not react out of fear. You have the right to verify any requests for information
 
Sources: FBI & Nashville.gov websites

Utility Scams

Utility Scams: What to Look For and How to Protect Yourself
Scammers manipulate people easily with utility scamsbecause everyone is dependent on utilities. Water, electricity, heat & air conditioning are things most people rely on daily. Scammers use fear tactics to make people react and do things they normally wouldn’t do, and senior customers are prime targets.  Here are some tips to protect yourself:
  • If someone shows up at your door from a utility company, ask them to show their ID badge and make them wait outside (with the door locked) while you contact the company to verify their information. Utility employees typically wear uniforms and/or carry ID badges and company vehicles are marked with a logo and/or vehicle number.
  • If you receive a call threatening to cut off power if you do not pay, hang up immediately!  Call your utility company’s billing department and check your account.
  • Notify the utility company of any possible scam attempts.
  • Never give out your utility account number(s) or banking information.
  • If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your local police department.
Remember, scammers typically use fear tactics to scare victims. Don’t fall for it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Sources: NES Power News and policygenius.com

Churches Respond to Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Older Adults

Center for Excellence in Aging and Older Adult Ministries  is hosting a seminar where church leaders will learn about the different types of Elder Abuse and the warning signs. Participants will also learn about mandatory reporting, caregiving concerns and steps they and their congregation can take to become proactive in ministry helping to prevent Elder Abuse.

Presenter

Rev. Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr.

Director ENCORE Ministries

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

8:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Cost: $25.00

Deadline for registration is April 5, 2016

To register, please call or email Joel Emerson at McKendree Village

joel.emerson@mckendree.com   615-871-8843

 All seminars meet at the Towers at

McKendree Village

4343 Lebanon Pike

Hermitage, TN 37067

These seminars are funded by McKendree Village and the Golden Cross Foundation.

Take action to protect senior rights!

148212219Friends of COA,

The legislative committee has been made aware of efforts remove the right of nursing home residents from bringing action against facilities and providers for violations of residents rights.  Consumer rights have always been a high priority in civil proceedings and nursing home residents are a very vulnerable population.  To remove the right for individual and collective action against facilities which violate resident rights is a regressive measure which favors the corporation over the individual.  Please send out this request for a letter to oppose SB 2063/HB 2558.  Associated links to TN legislators are below, including a draft message.

Thanks,

James S. Powers MD

Chair, Legislative Committee

 

Move to Oppose SB 2063/HB 2558

 

A Bill restricting nursing home residents from filing complaints against facilities and providers for violation of residence rights

 

http://openstates.org/tn/ to find your State Legislators

http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators/  to contact your State Legislators – it’s easy effective,  and generates an e-mail, the preferred contact form for legislators.

 

 

Dear Representative/Senator…..

I am very concerned at a new bill recently introduced in the state legislature, SB 2063/HB 2558.   This bill restricts nursing home residents from filing complaints against facilities and providers for violation of residence rights.

 

Consumer rights have always been a high priority in civil proceedings and nursing home residents are a very vulnerable population.  To remove the right for individual and collective action against facilities which violate residents rights is a regressive measure which favors the corporation over the individual.

 

Please oppose SB 2063/HB 2558.

 

Sincerely,

 

Name

Address

Phone

_____

A Better Nest Idea House Open House

Open House
October 30 10: a.m. – 6 p.m.
October 31 10 a.m. 4 p.m.
 
Come by and see how A better Nest has helped a couple transform this house so they can age in place.
 
Free. Donations will be accepted to benefiting COA and FiftyForward!

Idea_House_Flyer_Press-Ready_92915