Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't get scammed...

Here's the embarrassing part to tell you. I write home building and remodeling magazines and time and time again have told readers not to get scammed and to make sure whoever you hire is qualified. Yet, at my most vulnerable time, after Jeff passed away, I fell for it and got scammed. A man who I knew was underqualified to do work on my home convinced me he could handle the job. That was the start of several years of nightmares that I'm still recovering from. He couldn't handle the job and the building inspector shut him down (thankfully). It made me feel like a I couldn't do anything right. I had to call in one contractor, do part of the job and wait until I could afford to do the next part of the job and get another contractor to do that part of the job. I'm still fixing things that were messed up during all of this...I don't look at my house with the love and admiration of a job well done. I look at my home and I'm grateful, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't supposed to be like this. Jeff's money that he left me was supposed to go farther...was supposed to take care of putting a roof over my mom's head so she could help me. Instead, I was dealing with my own health crisis (thyroid cancer), taking care of my children, grieving over my husband and now was just too much...I was a victim and it cost me tens of thousands of dollars (yes, I sued him and won...he paid part of it and then 'disappeared.' What a surprise...)

I don't want the same to happen to you. When you are at your most vulnerable, it's important not to make any major decisions and to be VERY careful of those around you. Scammers can be a contractor or a guy (or even a woman) you meet on the Internet. A woman wrote me recently and told me that the guy she was dating from the Internet scammed her out of $900 and she found out that he scammed others. She wanted to know how she could stop him because the cops didn't have much to go on. I gave her some suggestions, but couldn't do much. However, we both agreed it was important to remind widows/widowers to be VERY careful. I also asked experts in this area for tips:

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, award-winning freelance writer/editor, who has written about this type of thing for AARP state newsletters, suggests the following:

1) Trust no one with your money!
2) Don't tell anyone how much money you have.
3) With contractors and other service providers, get references before commissioning the work and never pay until the work is done.
4) Use credit cards whenever possible, because you may be able to stop payments and the credit-card company may help you get your money back.
5) Be skeptical of any new romantic interest who is interested in your money.

From: Robert Siciliano CEO of

We do business with those we know, like and trust. Con men know this and work towards building this.

1. Realize there is a thief around every corner in all shapes and sizes looking to fleece you.
2. Never make emotional financial decisions, always make logical.
3. Check with the Better Business Bureau before laying down any cash to anyone
4. Be cautions of people trying to build a relationship with you then asking for money.
4. As the adage goes, "if its to good to be true, it is"

#5 is the most important to me. Go with your gut feeling. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Please, if there's nothing else you take away from this blog, take away this...don't let anyone take your money from you. Do due diligence and don't be so gullible to give people information if it doesn't seem right.

I'm recuperating from this, but my trust level with a lot of people is shot. I'm working on it though. I'm also trusting a neighbor who has proven himself to be good at house stuff and is helping me out as well. Be careful!


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