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Branch County Sheriff’s Department issues scam alert


COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - The Branch County Sheriff’s Office has issued a warning to area citizens that this is the time of year for home improvement and maintenance scams. These scams are usually directed at the elderly, and involve shoddy work and/or outrageous prices. These can include driveway re-paving/sealcoating, roof repairs, yard work and tree trimming, and general home repairs.

Scammers may also use hard-sell techniques and “limited time” offers, wanting you to agree to their terms immediately. Other scams involve distraction techniques with one person keeping the homeowner busy, while another helps themselves to valuables in the home.

The sheriff’s department says to avoid these scams: Have other family members present when you have an estimate done. Resist high-pressure sales tactics. If someone offers a choice of "now or never," choose never.  An offer to perform construction or remodeling work that is profitable to the builder will not vanish in a matter of minutes or hours.  Always ask if the contractor is licensed and insured - and demand to see proof.  Taking this step may help you distinguish between legitimate contractors and unlicensed scam artists offering to "save you money" by performing work that requires a license without proper credentials.

Keep in mind that when a contractor says he or she is insured, it may not mean that the insurance will cover poor workmanship, failure to properly complete the construction, or even damage that might be caused to your property or that of your neighbor.

Generally, the kind of insurance carried by contractors relates to injuries that may occur to the contractor or his or her employees while working on the job. If your contractor says that he or she is insured, ask "insured - for what"?

 Check to see if the contractor has been disciplined or if the license has been suspended or revoked.  Builders and contractors are licensed by the Licensing Division of the Bureau of Commercial Services, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).  

If you believe that you have been scammed, report the incident to your local police agency.