GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Montgomery County police are calling it an epidemic of home repair and tree/lawn service scams. They are sounding the alarm and sharing the warning signs you need know to protect yourself from these fraudulent schemes.
Police said there have already been a dozen cases since March 1 reported to them about scammers taking advantage of the warmer weather and trusting homeowners who have fallen prey to their promises of a good deal on some fix-it work.
These scammers are going to homes and telling potential victims that they are doing work for a neighbor while claiming they noticed some kind of urgent problem, such as a dangerous tree or maybe some clogged up gutters. They don't hit every home, but these scammers know what they are doing and where they are going by scouting out locations along the way.
So what exactly are they looking for?
"They will hit a house that appears to be neglected," said Montgomery County Police Capt. Paul Starks. "They will go to a home where they believe an elderly person lives. That person may not have all their faculties about them, may be intimidated and may just agree to get the job done so that person goes away."
In fact, 11 of the 12 reported victims in Montgomery County were over the age of 70.
Police recommend always asking for a contract, asking for a card, and if you're in Maryland, these businesses have to be licensed.
Here are some more tips by Montgomery County police to protect yourself from scammers: