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Will The Real HVAC Repair Company Please Stand Up?

by Harvie Simms

Every day, scammers think of new ways to separate unsuspecting victims from their money. In June 2015, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) posted an advisory on its website notifying the public that a group of individuals were posing as HVAC contractors and tricking local residents into paying for thousands of dollars of repairs they didn't need. Here's more information about this scam and a few tips for protecting yourself from getting taken for a ride.

HVAC Imposters

According to the BBB, the scammers would use altered versions of the names of legitimate businesses in the community and contact residents with offers of low-cost maintenance services such as duct cleaning. After doing the work, the con artists would pull a bait-and-switch and present the victims with bills for absurd amounts. For instance, one customer told the duct cleaning would be $45 but ended up getting charged over $1,000 for the service.

By no means is this the only way con artists piggy back on the reputations of HVAC companies to scam consumers. Another common tactic these people use is pretend to be subcontractors of the businesses. They'll say they're calling on behalf of the real companies or that the companies had outsourced some work to them. Since many consumers don't have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the HVAC businesses in their area, they simply accept what they're told.

Sometimes scammers take things to the extreme in order to run a con. In an article posted on April 26, 2015 on the ACHR News website, one HVAC contractor describes experiencing the business version of identity theft. The scammer in question actually registered a cell phone in the company's name and would pretend to be the company to callers who were mistakenly routed to him when they called information to get the number of the real company.

Protecting Yourself from Impersonators

There are a couple of things you can do to protect yourself from HVAC impersonators. Possibly the best thing you can do is establish a working relationship with a reputable HVAC company in your area and get to know how the business operates. If you know the company doesn't employ subcontractors, then you'll instantly know it's a scam when someone calls your home claiming to be one who works for the company.

The modus operandi of HVAC imposters is to make unsolicited calls (and sometimes house visits), so you should be instantly suspicious of anyone who calls and tries to sell you HVAC services, especially if you've never done business with the company before. Use the Internet to research the company before agreeing to have any work done, and trust your instincts. If things don't feel right, take action to extricate yourself from the situation.

If you have someone come to your home, ask the person to give you a written estimate of the work involved before he or she doesn't anything. Even though you may be subjected to high-pressure sales tactics, don't agree to have any work done until you get a second opinion about the cost. Contact other HVAC companies in the area (such as Tri State Enterprise) to get an idea of how much they charge for the same work or look it up online. This can help you avoid getting charged thousands of dollars for something that should only cost a hundred.

For more information about HVAC imposters, connect with a reputable heating and air conditioning repair company in your area.