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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > September 2012 > Beware of Traveling Scam Artists

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Beware of Traveling Scam Artists

As summer reaches its official end, beware of lingering traveling scam artists that come to your door to offer roof repair, driveway paving and sealing, or tree trimming.
Known by law enforcement as “travelers,” these professional con artists typically make their way through Ohio and other northern states in the summer months. They provide a verbal estimate to pave driveways or repair roofs for a very low price, but they later charge a much higher price and do extremely shoddy work.
Travelers often target middle-class homeowners, especially seniors. They generally dress professionally, speak politely, and drive well-maintained vehicles, all of which give homeowners the false impression that they are trustworthy.
In many cases, travelers lie to homeowners, telling them their driveway or roof needs to be repaired. They often say that they just finished paving a neighbor’s driveway and have leftover asphalt that they are willing to sell for a very low price.
They work quickly, and then demand a much higher payment. Later, the asphalt cracks or fails to set properly, leaving the homeowner’s driveway a gooey mess. Other times, travelers “seal” a driveway or roof with a useless mixture of diesel oil and paint that washes off in the rain.   
Some travelers revisit their previous victims weeks later to offer phony follow-up repairs or more seal-coating. Again, the work is completely substandard, even if the victim does not realize it at the time. 
To protect yourself, watch for the signs of this scam, including contractors who:
  • Come to your door unexpectedly
  • Notice a problem with your roof or driveway
  • Say they have leftover materials from a neighbor’s job
  • Offer unbelievably low prices
  • Accept cash or check only
  • Promise an unconditional guarantee on the work
  • Start work immediately
  • Take only 30 minutes to an hour to finish the job
Before signing a contract or making a payment, check a company’s reputation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau.
Keep in mind that for most door-to-door sales, businesses must give you a three-day “cooling-off” period, during which you have the right to cancel your contract. Businesses typically cannot begin the work before your three-day cancellation period has ended.
If you suspect a traveler scam, report it to your local law enforcement and to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.