FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Fairfield County homeowners should be wary of high-pressure door-to-door scam artists this spring, according to a warning from the state Department of Consumer Protection.
“We’ve learned that traveling pavers have already started their rounds in the state, and more fly-by-night operators offering chimney repair and magazine sales can’t be far behind. It’s important that consumers be extra careful and vigilant,” Commissioner William R. Rubenstein said in a statement.
Traveling pavers visit the area most years to push underpriced, inferior paving and sealing services, according to the department. Consumers frequently lose their money and are left with a pile of rubble where their driveways used to be.
Crews often drive unmarked trucks and vans, and the salespersons go door-to-door offering “leftover” asphalt from a nearby job at a bargain price. Hallmarks of the scam include requests for payment in cash or personal checks made out to cash.
“Since the law gives homeowners three days to change their mind, no work should start until at least three days after a contract is signed,” Rubenstein said. “Don’t be pressured by anyone who needs to start right away.”
Scammers have been known to commit burglaries if given the opportunity, warned Rubeinstein, adding consumers should not let anyone into their home without validating a contractor’s registration.
Paving scammers are known to strike quickly then disappear, making them difficult to catch. Local law enforcement often works with the Department of Consumer Protection to follow leads based on reports from consumers. “If something or someone seems suspicious in your neighborhood, please report it to your local police department,” Rubenstein said.
Here are a few other tips for avoiding paving scams:
• Find a local paving contractor if your driveway needs repair. Don’t fall for pitches delivered door to door.
• Verify that the contractor you hire is registered in Connecticut as a home improvement contractor by contacting the Department of Consumer Protection.
• Get the contractor’s certificates of insurance liability and workman’s compensation coverage from the contractor’s insurance provider.
• Check with your town for any required permits, and have them in place before work begins.
• Have your contractor provide all warranties in writing.
• Always get a signed and dated contract for paving work, since it will protect you from potential damages or misunderstandings. According to state law, the following must be included in writing:
• Date the contract was signed.
• Start date and end date for the job.
• Price (you can request that labor and materials be broken out separately).
• Contractor’s name, address and home improvement contractor number.
• A three-day Notice of Cancellation that allows you 72 hours to change your mind, along with clear instructions on how to contact the company to cancel the contract.
To verify a contractor’s registration, call the Department of Consumer Protection at 860-713-6110 or toll-free at 800-842-2649, or visit the agency website.