It seems all we’ve heard about lately is the awful drought in California. It has caused innumerable issues around the state, and scammers have unfortunately added one more to be worried about.
A Los Angeles attorney cautioned homeowners against scammers who are taking advantage of the dry conditions to offer drought-tolerant landscaping. However, in many cases they are either not qualified or unlicensed, or they charge people without following through on their promises — just as in other instances of scams, like those perpetrated by unscrupulous roofers or home improvement contractors.
Scammers advertise themselves as reputable companies that promise drought-tolerant plants, but they either deliver unacceptable work, no work at all, or plants that are not actually drought tolerant. In a state already having difficulties due to drought and wildfires, the last thing needed are scammers, but this isn’t the only scam related to the rough weather.
In another scam going around, contractors are tricking seniors into letting them fix HVAC systems. However, the contractor shows up and finds other things to charge for, without actually doing the work. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to this ruse, because they certainly don’t want to be without air conditioning during the hottest days of the summer, and because they may be more easily confused that younger consumers.
We’ve compiled a list of tips for you to avoid falling victim to a scam:
- Do not trust anyone who asks for payment in cash only.
- Be suspicious of a contractor who asks for a high down payment. It should not be more than half of the total price.
- Check to make sure the person you are hiring is listed on the Contractor’s State License Board site.
- Never apply for any permits if asked. Terminate the agreement and report the contractor.
- Know the laws behind projects. If a contractor wants to charge you more than $500, they must be licensed.
So far, 32 cases have been filed by the city attorney in Los Angeles for fraud, and another 35 are being reviewed. Take advantage of the 401,473 reputable landscaping businesses in America, and don’t fall for these scammers. What do you think can or should be done about these scams? How can we prevent them?