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Consumer Advisory Bulletin-April 2003

Beware of Asphalt Paving Scams

Asphalt paving scams by "hit-and-run" traveling con-artists crop up every spring and summer. Here's how they work:

Someone comes to your door. They offer a very low price for asphalting or sealing your driveway. They usually say it's a great bargain because "they have asphalt left over" from a job nearby. They may claim to offer a "lifetime guarantee" -- but they don't offer a contract. They want you to make a snap decision -- and want you to pay cash on the spot.

It may be tempting to dress up your cracked and faded driveway - but watch out! Those are all signals of a scam. All too often, it turns into a nightmare.

The original low estimate is replaced by much higher charges, even thousands of dollars. Sometimes the con-artists are menacing or threatening, especially to older citizens. And the job turns out to be very poor or worthless (sometimes they just paint the driveway!) But the con-artists are long-gone as soon as they cash your check -- and they cash your check immediately at the nearest bank on their way out of town.

These are usually flat-out con-schemes run by itinerant scammers. They travel from county to county, especially in small-town Iowa. They hit and run.

Don't be cheated: Beware of any contractor who comes to your door - reputable contractors almost never do that. Instead, get bids from established local paving companies, and then compare prices. Always ask for references and check them out. Deal with local contractors you know you can trust.

If you do spot traveling con-artists - usually with out-of-state license plates - report them to your local police or sheriff so they can check 'em out and protect your community. Watch out for older neighbors who might be threatened or intimidated by traveling con-artists.

This message is from the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General's Office, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926. Send email to consumer@ag.state.ia.us. On the web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926. The Attorney General's web site is: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.

Consumer Advisory on How to Prevent Home Repair Scams and Disputes.

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