Our homes are often our most prized possession, but this doesn’t stop bad actors using them for their schemes. TNS’ Robocall Protection team have seen many scams targeted at homeowners over the years. However, home buying scams have recently been on the rise as fraudsters seek to take advantage of the current sellers’ market in the US. Home improvement scams are also a common tactic used to attempt to steal from homeowners’ pockets. Keep reading as we explain how these schemes work and how to avoid falling victim to scammers posing as real estate brokers and contractors.
It is not uncommon to receive cold calls with offers to buy your home, especially for those who live in desirable neighborhoods. While some of these calls are legal as they come from established real estate brokers, be aware that some of the calls are coming from fraudsters searching for their next potential victim.
Scammers may pose as a realtor with a great offer that sounds too good to turn down (or too good to be true!). They will likely ask for an administrative fee, which is how they fraudulently earn their cash. It is important to remember that legitimate real estate companies would not ask you to pay this fee over the phone and up-front at the point of an initial offer. This is a major red flag if you receive a home buying call. If you are looking to sell your house or apartment, it is best to ignore these calls and find a licensed and trusted realtor to assist in the sale of your home.
Like home buying scams, contractors may cold call to advertise their services but some of these calls are not to be trusted. It is common for these calls to happen after floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters with the contractor often offering to fix roofs, windows or install solar panels. Those who are fraudulently offering services will likely promise to do the work but demand an up-front payment which they may run off with, without doing the job. If they do show up for the work, you might find the project in a worse condition than before.
When looking for a contractor, it is best to ask for recommendations from people you trust and get multiple estimates before deciding who to hire for home improvements. Be wary of unsolicited offers from people you haven’t vetted, whether they reach out via the phone, email or in person.
It is best practice to never engage with unknown numbers and report phone numbers being used by scammers to your carrier. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, you can report it to your local police, state attorney’s general office and the FTC.
Call-blocking apps, including those powered by TNS Call Guardian®, are also a great resource for reporting and blocking unwanted robocalls. Stay vigilant, share information about scams with others and be sure to check out our monthly Scam of the Month page updates.
John Haraburda is Product Lead for TNS Call Guardian® with specific responsibility for TNS’ Communications Market solutions.
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