Paving Scam Returns
Prince George, B.C. – Looks like the paving scam has returned to Prince George.
Last week, a local business owner was approached by a man claiming to work for a paving company out of Langley B.C. There was a second man in an unmarked white Dodge pick-up who was out of the view of the surveillance camera.
The man identified himself as ‘James’ and had an Irish accent. He provided a written quote to pave the parking lot of the business. Although the quote was on professionally printed paper, the owner didn’t feel comfortable with the deal. He did a few checks on the computer, came across reports of a paving scam, and then called police.
According to police, the investigating officer found several discrepancies with both the quote and website provided, leading the officer to believe this to be a fraud and that the company does not exist.
Here’s how it works. The suspect provides a quote at a reduced rate and the owner agrees, providing a portion of the money up front. The fraudster does not complete the job and goes on to another victim.
A similar fraud was reported in the community in 2009. More than six people were scammed out of thousands of dollars that summer when they entered into a contract with pavers going door to door.
Police are warning the public about the scam and advise you to be cautious when approached by anyone offering a service or product where you pay money before the contract is fulfilled.
Uninvited businesses that operate door to door are required to provide contracts for their services and products. These contracts are regulated by Consumer Protection BC.
Consumer Protection BC and the Prince George RCMP want to recognize that there are legitimate businesses that operate door to door. Here are some tips to help consumers when dealing with door to door businesses:
- Know whom you are dealing with. Personnel from these businesses should have no problem providing identification & documentation;
- Confirm your seller’s name, address and telephone number. Employees should know the company address and phone number;
- If an offer is too good to be true, it almost always is. Products and services priced way below market value should cause some red flags;
- Call the businesses’ customer service line. Check to see if the phone number works and if it does, ask them questions;
- Know your cancellation rights. BC’s consumer contracts regulation gives you 10 days to cancel your door-to-door sales contract for any reason. You also have up to a year to cancel if your contract doesn’t include certain information (such as the business’s name and total price and payment terms);
- Be cautious of down payments and keep a copy of your contract. BC’s consumer contracts regulation also states that if you’re asked to make a down payment, it can’t be more than 10 per cent of the total cost or $100 – the lesser of the two. You must also receive a copy of the contract at the time of signing or it’s not binding;
- Ask questions about prize incentives. Surveys or prize incentives are tactics that can used by some door-to-door salespeople who want to gain access to your home and run you through sales presentations. Make an informed decision and be sure you want the service or product before accepting any free gifts;
- Do your research. Before signing any contract or committing to a purchase, it’s always a good idea to get more information first – ask our friends or neighbours about their experience or do some research about the company online. You can also contact your local Better Business Bureau, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and Consumer Protection BC, to enquire about the business.;
- Don’t rush. Ask the sales person for some time to think about the purchase. A legitimate salesperson will not pressure you. And remember that it’s also okay to say no;
For more information about your rights as well as general consumer tips around door to door sales, visit www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/blog (English only). While it does not investigate scams or fraud, if you have questions about your door to door sales contract cancellation rights, contact Consumer Protection BC at 1-888-564-9963 or firstname.lastname@example.org.