Asphalt scam alert

Friday, June 22, 2012

Many property owners have begun construction and home improvement projects. Freelance contractors will often approach homeowners about possible work.

Unknown vendors pose a risk, particularly when offering a service that is unfamiliar to the buyer.

Jeffery Myers, who works with Hutchens Construction, offered a caution about vendors driving around with a load of asphalt, claiming to have extra and offering to make a deal to use it up.

"A truckload of asphalt costs around $1,000," Myers said. "It's not leftover."

Every year contractors hear about scam artists using asphalt as a way to charge exorbitant prices or doing an unprofessional job. Myers advised property owners to take basic steps to protect themselves.

"Ask for references and call them," Myers said. "Ask the contractor to show you proof of insurance, including proof of workers compensation and liability coverage. If they can't do it or if they make excuses, something is wrong. These are common sense things."

The Better Business Bureau urges caution in dealing with vendors who come in person to property owners offering services. The bureau offers the following recommendations:

"Don't be pressured into anything. Salespeople will try using high-pressure sales techniques in order to get you to buy their product. Hold your position, and don't allow them to win you over with words like 'this offer is only valid for today' or 'I won't be in this area again.'

"Pay with a credit card. If you are scammed, you can refute the charge with your credit card company. If you pay with cash, it may be impossible to get your money back," the bureau said.

Anyone suspicious of a vendor should contact law enforcement. Complaints can be filed with the Better Business Bureau's Springfield office at (417) 380-5078.

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