Avoiding "Scams"

As the temperatures drop, investigators say home repair scams often become more prevalent.

"We receive a call usually once or twice a week," said Lauderdale County deputy, Major Ward Calhoun. He adds that these scams frequently involve home repair prices that truly are "TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!"

"You've got to ask yourself the question, 'Why is there such a big difference (in price)?" said Calhoun, "and what happens is they take a down payment and never come back."

Although this is what happens in most "Home Repair" scams, officials say such schemes can take many forms.

For example, recently in Lake, Miss., a "Home Repair," con artist, scammed a man in his late 70s. According to police, the con artist was posing as someone who would help the man get repairs done to his home. After examining the rooms in the house investigators say the man got away with more than $700.

Aside from "Home Repair" scams, the Mississippi Attorney General's Office is also warning the public about a scam that involves the death of a loved one.

Here's how one has been used: A few weeks after a loved one dies, the surviving family members receive a notice from a company called Exodus Collection Services, stating that the deceased family member owes money for a credit card from Alliant Bank.

Although still under investigation, officials say initial research shows that the company is a fraud.

Here are some tips on how you can avoid being scammed.

  • 1. Try to deal with local companies or those that you know about.

  • 2. Never give out important information such as a credit card or Social Security number over the telephone.

  • 3. Always ask for references.

  • 4. Never make an impulse decision.

  • 5. Always tell the solicitor that you want to wait a day or two to think before making a decision and then search for more information on the company.

  • 6. If you or someone you know thinks you've been a victim of a scam, you should call local police. After all, they say your call could help someone else avoid being victimized.