The phone rings. A caller identifies himself as representing a well-known and trusted local business. He’s calling to offer you a discount on their services.
“Hey, great, I need those services anyway,” you think, and agree to the offer and arrange for the work to take place.
And another scam is set in motion.
It’s been happening here in Northwest Indiana. A heating/cooling contractor from Illinois (with an F rating at the Better Business Bureau, maybe not-quite-incidentally) has apparently been calling homeowners and claiming to be a well-known local business (with an A+ rating, also maybe not-quite-incidentally), with an offer for discounted duct cleaning. Workers show up, perform a shoddy duct-cleaning, then ask for more than the agreed-upon price.
So my fraud prevention tip today is this: be wary of unsolicited offers from local businesses. If you get a call, make sure to double-check with the actual business before you agree to anything. Use an official, published number from the real company’s website or trusted online source (or the phone book, if you didn’t just carry it directly from your front porch to the recycling bin) instead of the number that shows up on caller ID or the number given by the caller. If there’s a discrepancy, it could be a different (and unscrupulous) business posing as the real one.