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Protecting Yourself

Kalispell Police Department would like to remind everyone that because the construction industry is in full swing in our growing community, less reputable persons are provided the opportunity to take advantage of those in need of home repairs. Be aware of itinerate family clan construction companies, commonly referred to as Travelers. They specialize in construction scams nationwide and may be in this area. Frequently these groups will place ads in the newspaper, place flyers on doors or in mailboxes, and go door to door. Some groups have local license plates and give non-existent local addresses to make their victims think they are a local company.

Scams can include all areas of construction but some of the most common are driveway pavers and roofers. If hired, the work tends to be shoddy and/or never completed. Sometimes the scammers will increase the cost of the job due to unforeseen "problems" and, if you are unsatisfied with the work and refuse to pay, the scammers will use intimidation. The elderly are especially at risk.

What you can do to protect yourself.

Always ask for and spend the time to check references. In all cases of fraud, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Request the physical address of any business before hiring them. Drive to the address to make sure the business really exists and is not just a mail box with an address on it. Can you find the building they are representing as their office? Never sign a contract the first day even under pressure from the contractor. Take the time to check out the contractor and company. Be aware of the cost plus contracts. This could be an open contract to charge you far more than your budget can allow. Request a contract with start and end dates, work to be performed, and final dollar amount for the project. Get all guarantees and changes in writing. Never pay for the job before it is completed. Reputable businesses have credit and do not need money up front to pay for materials. Call the Agency on Aging at 758-5730 for a packet of information on construction scams. Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the company. Check to make sure the company is registered with the Montana Secretary of State. They can be reached at 406-444-3665. Call or go to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry website to see if the contractor is registered and legal to work in Montana. Keep in mind the state does not test skill level so always check references. They can be reached at 406-444-9029. You may also call the Kalispell office at 406-257-4075.

What to do if you suspect a business is fraudulent or you have been a victim of a scam:

Notify local law enforcement immediately.

Call Montana Consumer Protection at 1-800-481-6896.  You may also sign up for current "Scam Alerts" through the Montana Consumer Protection.

File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at 1-800-356-1007.

If you are elderly or disabled, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-551-3191.

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