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The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office is warning locals to be on the wary of unscrupulous home improvement workers.
Police say they have been recieving reports of contracting scams occurring in nearby communities, in particular with residential driveway paving contracts — something that Beaufort has seen before.
"Asphalt paving scams are a common example that can be potentially costly losses for homeowners," the sheriff's office wrote. "Often these scams leave the victim paying for poorly performed services which are marked up 300-400% higher than normal rates. Senior citizens are often the selected target in this type of fraud."
Here are some tips to stay safe. Beware of:
- Selling door-to-door. Reputable asphalt contractors will rarely, if ever, sell their product door-to-door.
- Claiming they have leftover asphalt from another job. Professional asphalt contractors will know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete a project. Rarely will they have leftover material.
- Push you to make a quick decision. Reputable contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. If the great deal they are offering you today is not available tomorrow or next week it is probably a scam. Never hire someone on the spot. Ask for references, then check them.
- No contract offered. Insist on a written contract specifying in detail, the work to be performed and the agreed total price – not the price per square foot. Chances are unless you measured the area to be paved you do not know what the total cost will be.
- Cash only sales. Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and don't require cash-only terms.
- Deals that seem to be good to be true. If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of the work will also be quite low.
If you believe you may have been victim of a scam of this nature, please contact the Beaufort County Dispatch Center at (843) 524-2777.