COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned consumers to beware of seasonal scams, including home improvement fraud and travel-related schemes.
“Scams don’t take a break in the summer,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We encourage people to be careful. Make sure you know who you’re dealing with. Ask for references. Take your time before making a decision.”
Last year, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section logged more home improvement complaints in the summer (about 600 complaints) than in any other season. While some involved billing disputes, others alleged services were never provided.
Consumers also reported travel-related complaints, such as “free” vacations that were not truly free and timeshare resellers who failed to deliver promised services.
During summer months, consumers should beware of scams including:
- Storm-chaser scams. Following severe weather, some con artists travel to storm-damaged neighborhoods and offer to repair roofs or clear downed trees. They offer prompt work and take immediate payment, but ultimately they do little or no work.
- Rental scams. A con artist advertises a rental property that is not actually available to rent. The scammer tells prospective renters to wire a deposit before they’ve seen the property, but after they send the money, they receive nothing in return.
- Utility shut-off scams. Someone calls, claiming to represent the power company, and says the power will be shut off unless immediate payment is provided. The caller is actually a con artist, and any money sent will be lost. (This scam may target individuals or organizations, such as restaurants or churches.)
- Closing-cost scams. Home buyers or sellers receive an email with instructions to wire their closing costs to a certain location. The instructions seem legitimate, but the message is actually from a scam artist who will collect the money.
- Driveway paving scams. Con artists pose as reputable driveway pavers and approach people at their homes. They claim to have leftover asphalt or concrete and pressure consumers into paying them, but they do minimal, shoddy work before leaving.
Common signs of a potential scam include:
- Pressure to act immediately
- Requests for payment via wire transfer, money order, or gift card
- Claims that are too good to be true
- No written information or contact information
- Requests for personal information
- Requests for large down payments
Consumers can learn more and report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.