Summer is here and we’re all sprucing up our lawns in preparation to spend more time outside – probably during the cooler evening hours, for those of us here in Texas. But as more and more people seek out lawn care providers, lawn care scams are sprouting like mushrooms after rain. Unlike that brown spot in the grass, scams are not easy to see.
How the Scam Plays Out
Typically, lawn care scammers will target homeowners with ads, calls, and other tactics. A company will offer to inspect your lawn and provide a free quote for any services you might need. When the victim (who we hope is not you) accepts the offer, a date and time will be set for the complimentary inspection. On the day that was set for the inspection, though, victims may arrive home to see a sign posted on their lawn detailing all the work that has already been done on behalf of this company! The victim is billed for the work and, when they protest, the business claims the victim verbally agreed to the services.
This can be just the beginning of the lawn care nightmare. The company may continue to send workers to service the victim’s yard, regardless of how many times they say they don’t want or need these services. Failure to pay will prompt the scammer to threaten to call collection agencies. Usually, the victim pays out of fear of having the lawn care company follow through on their threat.
Other scams could take the form of a company doing shoddy work and overcharging for it, insisting on being paid first and not performing the work, or tacking on extra charges and fees without warning.
Avoid getting scammed
Before hiring a lawn care company, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends taking the following steps:
- Research the company. Look up the business’s profile on the BBB website or search for its name on the bureau’s list of accredited lawn maintenance companies. Look for any necessary licensing and insurance as well. To avoid signing a “verbal contract,” do not contact a company before doing your research.
- Ask for a lawn inspection before getting a quote.
- Get everything in writing. Make sure the contract clearly explains terms of the agreement and for how long it is valid. The contract should also list the quantity, size and types of plants and other materials that will be used by the lawn care company. Keep a personal copy of anything you sign.
- Ask for references and pictures of past jobs.
- Get specifics on pricing.
- Ask for receipts for all paid invoices.
If you’ve been scammed
If you’ve been duped by an unscrupulous lawn care company, you may have difficulty getting out of contracts or agreements. Report the scam to the FTC
and the BBB
. Also, contact local law enforcement to ask about suggested next steps.
Don’t get scammed by a lawn care company! Follow the tips outlined above when hiring and visit Education First's fraud prevention info center
for ways to avoid other scams such as internet fraud, text message scams, and much more.