Residents along Curtiss Street and the surrounding neighborhoods have been met the last few days with promises of easy driveway sealing in exchange for cash. But don't be fooled - it's a scam that could cost you.
A company advertising as Asphalt Maintenance has been going door to door over the past few days, approaching residents with promises of a quick and easy reseal of local driveways. The company will only take cash, however, and offers no scheduling deal or opportunity to pay through other means.
These are the first signs of a scam, police said.
"It's something we do see in the area from time to time, usually a couple weeks each year," Southington Police Lt. Lowell DePalma in an interview last year. "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."
In Southington, the recent series of potential scams has been connected to a series of stops by an unmarked truck. The personnel, often described as "gypsy workers" for their means of traveling between communities, approaches residents and offers a "one-day only deal."
Residents said Wednesday that during the visits, the "organization" presented business cards and claimed to be from Portland, Conn., but such an organizing is not listed within the state.
In addition, the company accepts cash only and provides a generic, non-numbered receipt that is inconsistent with others in the business.
One resident, a business owner, said he would have expected the group to include at least a certification number when presenting the card, another tell that the "deal" is likely one that involved spraying of gasoline and chemical that will wash off with the next storm.
"I knew right away something wasn't right, but others may be a little more trusting," the resident said.
According to the DCP, bargain-minded consumers are usually targeted by traveling pavers who visit the Northeast offering low-priced but inferior paving and sealing services. They often drive unmarked trucks and vans and pitch "leftover" asphalt from nearby jobs that they're willing to discount for you. Often, they'll ask for payment in cash or a check made out to cash.
These less-than-honest pavers usually are hard for police to catch up with, striking in one area then moving to a different area to avoid detection. But the DCP and local police departments share information and collaborate in tracking these unscrupulous contractors, and they encourage consumers to call local authorities if they are targeted.
Here's some tips from the DCP on how to deal with the problem:
- Find a local paving contractor if your driveway needs repair. Don’t fall for pitches delivered door to door.
- Verify that the contractor you hire is registered in Connecticut as a home improvement contractor by contacting the Department of Consumer Protection.
- Get the contractor’s certificates of insurance liability and workman’s compensation coverage from the contractor’s insurance provider.
- Check with your town for any required permits, and have them in place before work begins.
- Have your contractor provide all warranties in writing.
- Always get a signed and dated contract for paving work, since it
will protect you from potential damages or misunderstandings. According
to state law, the following must be included in writing:
- the date the contract was signed
- a start date and end date for the job
- the price, (you can request that labor and materials be broken out separately)
- the contractor’s name, address and home improvement contractor number
- a 3-day Notice of Cancellation that allows you 72 hours to change your mind, along with clear instructions on how to contact the company to cancel that contract.
“Since the law gives homeowners three days to change their mind, no work should start until at least three days after a contract is signed,” Commissioner William R. Rubenstein said. “Don’t be pressured by anyone who needs to start right away.”
To verify a contractor’s registration, please call the Department of Consumer Protection at (860) 713-6110, toll-free at 1-800-842-2649, or visit the agency website at www.ct.gov/dcp.
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