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    Travelers Come for a Visit - Asphalt Paving Scams


    Consumer Beware:
    Travelers Come for a Visit - Asphalt Paving Scams

    By District Attorney Scott Storey
    July 8, 2011

    Don’t be fooled with home improvement jobs deals that sound too good to be true. Has someone come to your door telling you that they have some extra asphalt paving supplies left over from a previous job and will do the job for you for a really cheap price? Have you been offered low cost tree trimming services because the crew and trucks are already in the area? What about cheap roofing services?  Colorado’s unpredictable weather, lack of rain and warm temperatures makes our community a perfect target for the Travelers. Travelers are opportunistic, show up after a natural disaster, or set up shop briefly in Colorado before moving on to the next targeted area. They tend to prey on the elderly, those in dire need or those all too willing to believe in a great offer.

    The District Attorney’s Office has received calls regarding asphalt pavers who performed work in the mountain communities. The pavers quickly performed asphalt jobs on several homes and placed signs by their jobs to spark interest. In one instance a gentleman called the group and asked about having his driveway paved. The entire contract took place over the phone in a matter of minutes. The homeowner did not receive a written contract specifying the terms of the agreement; a written warranty statement; and had no record of the promised work.

    District Attorney Scott Storey warns, “If you need to have home repair work done, do not enter into a contract lightly. Once these contractors have your money, if they don’t do the job properly, or at all, you may have little legal recourse. They leave town as quickly as they came, and often there is nothing we can do to help you recoup your losses. We just encourage people take a few simple steps before they choose a contractor. Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

    Travelers are generally polite, persuasive, and will offer any type of guarantee to the homeowner in order to make a sale. These guarantees cannot be enforced.

    Travelers have been known to apply pressure to force a homeowner to pay for shoddy work or to pay in advance of any work being performed. Generally the contracts are verbal, allowing the contractor to request additional funds stating that the home owner agreed to the larger sum. Their vehicles are normally new, clean, and contain well-maintained equipment. They will offer you many additional services as discount rates, yet no contract is provided. They often engage in high pressure sales that are offered “today only”.

    Travelers are highly active between the months of March – October. Some of the jobs they perform include roof/coating repair, asphalt paving, driveway sealing, house and barn painting, tree pruning, landscaping, utilities repair and auto body scams.The District Attorney’s Office offers the following tips when entering into a contract for home repair: 

     • Beware of door-to-door contractors. Don’t do business with someone who comes to your door offering you a “bargain”, saying that they have material left over from another job. Be skeptical of “cash only” deals. 
     • In Colorado, anyone can be a licensed contractor. Ask for references from your friends or neighbors, contact the Better Business Bureau 303-758-8200 or www.denverbbb.org 
     • Contact your building department to determine if permits and inspections are required and determine the when the inspections are required. For example, do you need to obtain a mid-roof inspection; do footers have to be inspected prior to the pouring of concrete; will the inspector want to approve the underlayment and grade before asphalt is poured? 
     • Ask for proof that the contractor is bonded, carries liability insurance and covers his workers with workers’ compensation insurance. 
     • The contractor’s business card should have a verifiable street address and office phone number. Be cautious of those with only PO boxes and answering machines. Determine how long the company has been in business. Check references. 
     • Verify that the company is registered and current on all paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State by going to the webpage www.sos.state.co.us
     • Obtain at least three written bids for work you want done. Don’t automatically choose the lowest bidder. 
     • Require that the contractor use a written contract that lists materials to be used, charges, costs and the start and completion dates. 
     • Obtain written warranty information. 
     • Beware of contractors who want 50% down to purchase materials. Find out who the supplier is and write the check directly to them. It is never required by law that money for be materials be paid up front.
     • Don’t make final payment until you receive a lien wavier. The lien waiver should indicate that the contractor has paid his subcontractors and suppliers, and that you are satisfied with the contractor’s work. 
     • Contact professional trade groups to find out what the industry standard is for the thickness of asphalt, wind loads, etc. Many trade associations even have calculators that will help you estimate the amount of materials that are needed for your job. 
    • Report suspected travelers to your local police of Sheriff’s departments.

    If you have questions as you make a decision regarding a contractor, call your local consumer advocate. In Jefferson and Gilpin counties, call Deb Ohno at 303-271-6931 at the District Attorney’s Office. Please contact your local law enforcement agency if you suspect there may be a Traveler-type scam in your neighborhood.

    For more information see Fraud Alert June 2009-More about the Travelers.

    Pam Russell
    DA Public Information
    303-271-6905
    prussel@jeffco.us

    July 11, 2011


    Last Updated: 6-27-2013
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    A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. See Colo. RPC 3.6.