Scammers Target Seniors in Northeast

posted Apr 6, 2011, 12:42 PM by Ronnie V   [ updated Apr 6, 2011, 2:02 PM ]
My senior citizen neighbor confided in me yesterday that she and her husband had recently been scammed by an out-of-town company claiming to do air duct cleaning.

My neighbor originally received a professional looking postcard in the mail from the company, Air Duct Cleaning Pros, and when she called the phone number for more information, the company quoted a price of $250 and insisted on coming out the next day, a Saturday.

My neighbor said that at the time she felt a little rushed into the appointment, but went ahead and set it anyway. My neighbor said that the company spent only about an hour on the premises and then presented paperwork to her husband to sign for a credit card charge. The company ended up charging their credit card $3,500!

Long story short, my neighbor contacted the BBB and the MN Attorney General, who both have unfavorable reviews for the company. She also contacted a lawyer who told her that it would be very difficult to sue the company since they are based in another state. A very basic Google search reveals that the Attorney General for the State of Illinois has sued the company over false information provided to home owners.

My neighbor subsequently had another duct cleaning company come out that was recommended by the Attorney General, who confirmed that the ducts had not even been cleaned. All they’d done was blow the dirt around.

I'm just guessing, but I think it's likely that the company probably obtains mailing lists of seniors who may tend to be more vulnerable and ask fewer questions. If you have a senior in your life, be sure to offer to act as an advocate for them when it comes to researching service providers or when responding to solicitations.

If you’ve received a piece of mail from this company, please beware. Always do a thorough investigation of any service company before contracting work. Ask for and check local references, check for any complaints through the BBB and attorney general, and perform a simple Google search of the company for any reviews or complaints they may have. Check with friends and relatives for the names of service companies that they’ve used and have been happy with.

Often times even if there is a follow up issue with service received, you’ll likely get a better response and follow through from a company based in your neighborhood because they have a local reputation to maintain.

If you’ve been scammed or have information about unethical practices from any business, please be sure to submit the information and we’ll add it to our database for reference. You may use the contact form on our Tips | Contact page or contact us via email, You may submit your information anonymously.