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July 11, 2014

Homeowners warned about driveway scams

BUFFALO — The Better Business Bureau serving Upstate New York is warning homeowners to use caution when hiring a paving contractor.

BBB has heard from consumers in the Albany and Syracuse areas who gave money upfront to a man going door to door offering to pave their driveways.

“The driveway paving scam is not new, but each year consumers are swindled out of unreasonable amounts of money," said Warren Clark, Upstate New York president for the group, in a press release.

"And, oftentimes, the paving projects are unnecessary.”

Check out paving companies at bbb.org to make an informed decision, the release advised.

That small effort could pay off big, it said.

“In many cases, the (scam) paving company disappears, and the consumer is not able to contact them to complain about the work."

Beware of paving company representatives who knock on your door, saying they have leftover materials from another job and claim to offer bargain prices, the group said.

"Complaints about these companies primarily focus on shoddy quality of work."

Another issue that arises, the release said, is when pavers run out of materials, say they will be back the next day, then disappear.

Some signs of a paving scam may also include a firm that:

• Pushes you to make a quick decision. Trustworthy contractors provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks.

• Offers no contract offered. Insist on a written contract specifying in detail the work to be performed and the agreed total price, not just price per square foot.

• Cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards.

• Deals that seem too good to be true. If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of work will also be quite low.

• Drive out-of-state or unmarked trucks.

Along with checking business reviews at bbb.org, the Better Business Bureau offers these tips:

• Verify that any contractor you are considering doing business with is properly licensed, bonded and insured and has the applicable license to do business in your municipality.

• Get at least three bids and details in writing, along with the complete name and address of the company.

• Don’t fall for high-pressure tactics such as: "I’m only in this area today." A legitimate company will be here when you're ready to buy, and they will be more than willing to allow you time to check them out. If they don’t, let that be a warning sign.

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