Friends, neighbors, and followers:
We all know that this is high time for home improvements, especially tree trimming and other plant health care treatments – and of course, where there’s plentiful activity, there are parasites who take advantage of the bustle.
Here’s a heads-up on the latest tree trimming scam we’ve noticed sweeping the country – the current wave began on the East Coast a few weeks ago, and has now made its way to Mesa, Arizona, so we want everyone in our area to be aware in case this theft rash arrives in our area soon.
>> This particular ruse for theft isn’t new, but it does pop up in infrequent waves – here’s an article about it from 1991 – and those who haven’t experienced or heard of it before may be taken in. Please spread the word to your neighbors!
Here’s a typical instance from Richfield, Ohio:
Here’s the general progression of this con:
1. A “worker” rings your doorbell and states that he’s from the city, or the county, or from a local “tree company” or “independent contractor.”
2. This person tells you you’re already scheduled for tree service, or that whatever governmental body they represent requires “cleanup” of trees on your property. Sometimes they then demand a cash fee.
3. You’re requested to come outside – often to your back yard – to “supervise” this operation, where one “worker” will ask questions/fill out a form, or bark orders and insist you perform some task, such as move a vehicle.
4. While you’re outside and distracted, another “worker” enters through another door and rifles your house, stealing cash, jewelry, and valuables.
- Never give money to anyone you don’t know, no matter what kind of uniform they have on.
- Never provide personal information (address, date-of-birth, banking information, ID numbers) to people you do not know.
- Verify the “worker” has a logo on their uniform, work clothes AND vehicle that you recognize. if in doubt, check google/ the BBB to be sure the company exists. Look up the number to their dispatching office and call them to verify there is an appointment in your area.
- Remember, it IS NOT RUDE to speak to people who come to your door *through* the screen or storm door if you’re unsure what their business is, and it IS NOT RUDE to let them wait while you check to make sure they represent a real and trustworthy outfit.
- Door-to-door scams and theft ruses rely on your forbearance and on you NOT ASKING QUESTIONS.
- A reliable service provider is ALWAYS happy to answer questions about their organization.
- A genuine service company is also happy to give you any contact information you feel you need to verify the service, and they will wait. If they give you any hard time, pressure you into accepting a service on the spot without independently verifying their claims, or avoid giving specific information, they’re less than trustworthy!
Bottom line: When in doubt, keep strangers out.
You’re under no obligation even to answer the doorbell. If you do, never offer access to your home, property, or wallet.
Never provide answers to personal questions.
Better to be rude than scammed – or worse.
further reading –
Mesa, AZ report [archive link] http://www.abc15.com/news/region-southeast-valley/mesa/mesa-police-warn-of-tree-trimming-scam