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Don’t Fall for “Free” Repair Scams

Well. I’m not surprised. The National Insurance Crime Bureau is reporting that every year we all pay more for our car and home policies due to fraud — about $30 billion worth. The big culprits are:

– auto glass repairs,
– ridiculous towing charges,
– home repairs that aren’t needed,
– total roof replacements,
– damage from sinkholes, and
– solicitation of accident victims.

All the scams have one thing in common — someone shows up at the door offering repair or other services.

I have personal experience with this one. Living in a small townhome complex primarily filled with senior citizens we are . . . how shall I say this . . . chickens ripe for the plucking?

Two years ago a roofer showed up on the front porch next door. The neighbor was, at that time, 88. He convinced her she needed a roof and told her she could get it “free.” He’d do the work for whatever the insurance company would pay. She bit and dragged all the neighbors but me into the scam. Within six months, the neighbor was complaining about how her homeowner’s premiums had gone up.

And just to finish the tale, now my shingles are curling and now I am prepared to investigate doing something about it, but only because I learned something about roofs and how they react to cold, heat, and adverse weather.

Don’t. Fall. For. It. If you think something is wrong, request an inspection from your insurance provider. If a random person shows up telling you tht you have a problem? Request an inspection from an authorized vendor through your insurer. In fact, the NICB has a whole set of recommendations including:

– Always contact your insurer about an unsolicited repair.
– Get multiple estimates.
– Get everything in writing regardless of who you’re working with (including time schedules.)
– Ask for references and investigate them.
– Never sign a contract with blanks.
– Never pay a contractor in full until the work is done.

And above all, never let yourself be pressured — regardless of your age. Take the time to think and to research. There is no such thing as a “free” repair.

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