‘Tis the season…for scammers

Published 11:11 am Thursday, December 4, 2014

This newspaper receives sporactic reports from citizens living across the Roanoke-Chowan area concerning possible scams. Most of those bogus phone calls deal with “Green Dot” schemes….one where the scam target is led to believe they have won a lottery, sweepstakes or a government grant measuring in the tens of thousands of dollars. However, in order to claim this unexpected winfall, the now starry-eyed victim is instructed to purchase and load a Green Dot money card with an odd numerical figure (say $399) and mail it to an obscure post office box in a foreign land. Say good-bye to that cash.

The same scenario applies to a new scam where the victim is led to believe they are delinquent in paying their electric bill. If the bill isn’t paid immediately, the caller will typically issue a threat that they will immediately disconnect the electrical power.

Then, as the weather warms, comes the typical home repair scams. It’s always good advice when home repairs are needed to use a local firm or individual that has a good reputation with the business community.

Another good avenue to take when in doubt about the reputation of a company is to make a simple phone call to your local Chamber of Commerce. There are five in the local area (Ahoskie, Murfreesboro, Windsor/Bertie, Northampton County and Gates County). Local chambers of commerce are good sources of information about local businesses and should be consulted if you are getting work done and have no one you trust to recommend someone for the work.

If you live within one of the local municipalities that dot the Roanoke-Chowan area landscape, call the town hall and inquire about the reputation of a repair company.

And be reminded to contact your local police department if you have been victimized by a film-flam artist. As is so often the case, the local police will not be able to recover your money, but they do keep accounts of these reports…information that may come in handy down the road.

In fact, if people tell these flimflammers that they’re going to call the police to have them come out and talk with them, the disreputable home repairmen will find a way to disappear.

Elderly people, especially those unable to check out the claims of those seeking work, should simply say “no” to unsolicited help.

The flimflammers will identify a potential victim, approaching the person by saying they noticed that they noticed there is a problem that needs to be fixed.

They will do it for a cheap price, but are only going to be there on that day and they may use pressure tactics to convince the person to let them do the work.

Quite simply, the answer is to keep unsolicited laborers out of your home and to not accept their offer.

The flimflammers will often find something they can show the homeowner that does require repair, but they are unlikely to actually repair it or they will do shoddy work that will not last.

Meanwhile, the price they charge to perform the work is probably too high to begin with, but if they don’t do the work, it is definitely too high.

But if folks are alert to the dangers and call the local chamber of commerce, town hall or police department before handing over any money or getting any work done, they will be safe from getting ripped off by flimflammers.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald