Beware of home renovation fraud, warns Peel police

Peel police is warning the public about an advance fee home repair fraud operating in Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon and neighbouring areas.

Police believe that these suspects may be intentionally targeting elderly residents.

Investigators have learned that the fraud involves persons who identify themselves as contractors travelling door-to-door, selling services that are unsolicited by the consumer. The suspects provide quotes with prices lower than market value and once a deal is reached, typically request a large cash advance.

The suspects may or may not start the job, but will ask for additional money. Once this additional or final payment is received, the suspects disappear and phone calls and text messages will go unanswered, leaving the consumer with an incomplete project and/or damage to their residence.

There have been a several complaints in Peel Region, police said in a statement. Suspects have used various company names, including that of legitimate companies.

Police believe there may be additional victims in the region, as well as in neighbouring jurisdictions.

Recent complaints state the suspects are male with prodominently Irish or possibly Scottish accents.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Peel Regional Police Fraud Bureau at 905-453-2121 ext. 3335. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.peelcrimestoppers.ca.

Police also shared the following consumer protection tips to help consumers when hiring a contractor for their home:

  • Be cautious of unsolicited offers via the phone, or door to door.
  • Don’t be pressured to make a quick decision and obtain more than one estimate.
  • Get recommendations from people you trust and check multiple references.
  • Do your research and check online reviews (for example, BBB.org)
  • Ensure the contractor is insured and ask about their warranty.
  • Draft a written contract clearly outlining the work that is requested and agreed upon.
  • Establish a timeline with expected start dates, benchmarks, and anticipated finish dates.
  • Establish an exact cost of the project.
  • Request a receipt if one is not offered.
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