State police advises being wary of springtime con artists, scams, home invasions | WTAJ | #scams | #elderlyscams
PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The coming of spring typically means the potential for an increase in crimes relating to scams and con artists, according to state police.
Captain Wayne Kline of Pennsylvania State Police at Punxsutawney issued a release saying that people have been known to offer “unbelievable deals” on home improvement services like driveway paving, driveway sealing, house painting and lightning rod sales and installation.
He reports that they will often sell inferior products for a price that is just below that of a new quality product.
Sometimes, people will commit home invasions. They will work in pairs, and one will keep you busy while the other goes through your house looking for valuables and money. They pose as utility workers, Kline said.
To prevent this, Kline said to demand photo ID, which is something all utility workers must carry. Additionally, call the company of any worker that needs to enter your home.
Phone scams are easily committed as well. He said to keep in mind that phone scam artists are smooth talkers, meaning they can talk you out of information without realizing what information you gave them, leaving you susceptible to identity theft.
He said the primary target for these crimes is the elderly.
A list of prevention tips given in the press release is as follows:
- Always lock your doors when doing yard work, getting mail or any time you go outside – both front and back doors.
- Never allow strangers inside your home.
- Check with the utility company by phone if an employee wants to enter your home or wants you to come outside with them. If you don’t see any identification, ask for it. However, note that these criminals have become adept at making their own IDs, and each individual’s identification should be verified with their respective companies.
- Beware of unsolicited home repairmen. If you need the services of a home repairman, check with your municipality’s building officials or the Better Business Bureau to make sure they’re legitimate. Verify that the contractor is properly licensed, bonded and insured.
- Be suspicious of high-pressure sales tactics.
- Pay by check so you can stop payment if dissatisfied. Also, make sure the salesperson had provided you with a proper “notice of cancellation” form as required under the Federal Trade Commission’s “Three Day Cooling-Off Rule” for contracts signed in the home. Under this rule, you have three days to cancel purchases made of $25 or more when the sale occurred in your home, workplace or at facilities rented by the seller on a temporary basis.
- Be sure work is completed to your satisfaction before you make the final payment.
- Never sign a contract or agreement without carefully checking it.
- Write down the plate number of any suspicious vehicle they may be operating, and get a good physical description of anyone who comes to your door.
- Call the police and report the incident immediately that you’ve been victimized or swindled.
Furthermore, he said anyone who has suffered a loss may be eligible for assistance through their county office of victim services at the courthouse.