How the scam works:
(with video below) You are in your backyard and a truck with a couple of hard-working-looking men passes by. The truck stops, and one of them tells you that they are finishing up a job for one of your neighbours. In the meantime, they have noticed that the trees around your house are creating a big problem. “By the way it looks --they say-- the branches will soon hit the electricity wires, and that's a huge danger. That's how a bunch of houses burn down, man. Your home, shed and deck could be ashes in minutes”.
How does the scam work?
Watch the video below to see in action the Tree Trimming Service Scam exposed.
They suggest, since they're in the area, that they could trim the trees for you, for a good price. You might accept, thinking that you don’t want to be caught off-guard by the next severe storm.
After shaking hands, they will start working on trimming the trees, but they will overcharge you. They may even asking you to pay for things that are not needed, while making a big mess. In addition to the job you hired them for, they will keep finding more things that need "fixed".
Unfortunately, you have been carefully selected as a victim the day they stopped by, as they were looking for houses with trees closer to the electricity poles.
In a different variation of the scam, crooks go door to door offering asphalt paving work or home improvement (shingles fixing).
How to avoid the Tree Trimming Service scam:
Never trust people who will just recommend themselves to you as home improvement specialists. Ask for their license if they are knocking on your door. Otherwise, always go with your acquaintances’ recommendations. Legitimate contractors give written proposals.
Always hire somebody whose previous work you have seen. Never pay an upfront deposit to workers you don’t know when they say they need money for the materials first. Proper workers have credit arrangements in place with building suppliers. The crooks will run away with your money.
There are some common phrases that questionable contractors use:
"I just happen to work in this neighborhood"
"This offer is only good for today."
"I can help you finance the project."
"I need cash up front."
"I have materials left over from my last job".
How to report the Tree Trimming Service scam:
Make your family and friends aware of this scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How to protect yourself more:
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You'll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.
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Week January 8-14, 2017
Scam Detector Gives Back To The Community
Scam Detector recently partnered with Travel by Dart, an inspirational web-series where two friends blindfoldedly throw a dart at the world map and travel wherever it lands, with the purpose of helping the land or the people. Click HERE or on the image below to watch the trailer of the series!