Iowans are being warned the warmer weather of spring may bring scam artists back to the state. Jim Hegarty, of the Better Business Bureau, says one of the most common rip-offs during this time of the year involves asphalt companies that offer discount prices.
Hegarty says, “They normally will pull up to acreages that have long driveways and let them know that they’ve been working for the state and have a leftover load from their project and they can give them a great deal.” Con artists are already here. Hegarty says an elderly couple in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area says a man knocked on their farmhouse door, claiming he had a load of asphalt and could repave their driveway.
“In this case, we had an 84-year-old couple that started out thinking they were going to be spending about $500 and ended up writing a check for $4,000 and by the time they called their credit union these guys had already been there and cashed the check,” Hegarty says.
With pressure from the BBB and law enforcement, the firm returned about half the money to the couple, but Hegarty says the quality of work they did is suspect. The company name on the contract was T-and-T Asphalt Paving and Seal Coating, and he says they don’t have a good reputation.
“This company is out of Wisconsin and they have an ‘F’ rating with the BBB,” Hegarty says. “Whether you’re 30 or whether you’re 80, if you get a knock on your door and the deal sounds too good to be true, it makes sense to get a hold of the BBB and ask us if we can give you some guidance on this. Normally, we’ll steer you towards a local, reputable company that will take care of you.”
Hegarty says everyone should be suspicious if a salesperson greets you by name approaches you while you are outside your home or demands cash as payment. Never let anyone you don’t know into your home. Verify that the contractor has the appropriate licenses and they are bonded and insured. Get everything in writing and always ask to see the person’s credentials and call the company they represent to verify that information.