Be cautious when a door-to-door contractor knocks on your door

In the past two weeks, the Fraud Unit has received five reports, with an estimated loss of $250,000 to Ottawa-area residents.

“It’s always the same pitch, they say they’re already in the area working on a neighbour’s home and can offer a great deal,” said Fraud Unit Acting Sergeant Shaun Wahbeh. “Most of the reports we are receiving identify the suspects as white males, typically in pairs, ages 40 to 50, with Irish or Scottish accents.”

The high-pressure sales pitch typically is for very expensive work, including foundation repair, which can cost upwards of $100,000. Money is asked for upfront, and in most cases the work is started but never completed, leaving the homeowner to foot the bill to clean up and complete the job.

“Protect yourself when you meet these folks at the door,” said A/Sgt. Wahbeh. “These individuals tend to rotate from city to city with the same scam and we started to see them return to Ottawa last month.”

When hiring contractors, a reputable business will take time to go through a contract and provide you with a quote for reasonable market rates. You can establish things like a ceiling on contingency costs as well as whether to pay a flat or hourly rate in a written contract. Be smart and look up the business on reputable websites like the Better Business Bureau, make calls to other contractors to ask for quotes to compare, and ask for references you can call. If the price being quoted sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

“The best thing you can do is to take their information and then do your research,” said A/Sgt. Wahbeh. “The more they pressure you to hand over money or act quickly or lose the opportunity, it’s a signal to walk away.”

If you need help determining whether something is a scam or not, you can always contact our partners at Community Navigation of Eastern Ontario by dialling 211.


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