Attorney General, AARP ElderWatch warn consumers about traveler, home-repair scams

DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and AARP ElderWatch issued a consumer advisory today warning Coloradans about scammers posing as door-to-door repairmen, contractors or handymen in an effort to defraud consumers.

“So-called ‘travelers’ inevitably start showing up at consumers’ homes after major wind storms or other severe weather and pressure consumers into signing up for home repair projects,” Suthers said. “Consumers should always be wary of contractors or others who show up at their doorsteps without being hired or asked for an estimate. Consumers should never enter into contracts based on a door-to-door sales pitch.”

Travelers typically show up with an offer of a special price on roofing or other home repairs. Often they will say they have leftover materials from another job and can offer consumers a deal if they pay upfront for the repairs or improvements.  In most cases the travelers take the money and never return. In other cases, though, they show up and do shoddy work or use their access to consumers’ homes to steal valuables or their identities.

Suthers said consumers should:

  • Never do business with a contractor who just shows up on your doorstep.
  • Never allow a stranger to “check out” any part of your home, including letting them inside for an inspection. They might be looking for valuables to steal.
  • Get at least three quotes from local contractors for any improvements or repairs on your home. (The local Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource to check out local businesses.)
  • Obtain a written agreement from the contractor specifically addressing the work that will be done. The contract should include an estimate of how much you will be required to pay for the work.
  • Never pay a contractor an advance fee. For major home repairs or other substantial projects, if a contract insists on payment, agree to partial payment throughout the progress of the work as clear benchmarks, laid out in a written contract, are met.

Consumers who believe they have been victimized by a traveler scam or a home repair scam should file a report with their local district attorney as well as the Office of the Attorney General at www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/complaint.

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