Construction worker

Sheriffs, Port Allen Police issue scam warnings to the elderly and Louisiana homeowners

GONZALES, La. – Law enforcement officials in several area parishes are warning Louisiana residents about telephone and contractor scams targeting the elderly and homeowners.

The Port Allen Police Department and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office are warning against telephone scammers who call and say they’re from a local law enforcement agency and tell people they’re going to be arrested unless they make a payment by phone or electronically. In Ascension Parish, these phone scams have reportedly targeted the elderly.

APSO and Port Allen Police will never contact you and request any payment by phone or through GreenDot, CashApp, Venmo or PayPal over the phone to pay for arrest subpoenas, warrants, tickets or to avoid arrest and jail time.

If you receive a call that sounds suspicious, hang up immediately. In Ascension Parish, you can report it to APSO by calling (225) 621-8300. If you live in another parish, call your local police department or sheriff’s office to report it.

Home improvement, contractor scams target local homeowners

The East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office has received complaints from local homeowners about asphalt contractors knocking on their door and offering to fix or pave their driveway at a bargain price using surplus asphalt.

Once hired, the contractor starts the work and when the repair is only partially finished, and the driveway is unusable, they threaten to walk away from the job unless they are paid a higher price.

The Regional Organized Crime Information Center (ROCIC), one of six organizations serving thousands of law enforcement agencies in multiple states, recently reported this activity in the Monroe area, according the sheriff’s office. It was the first incident reported by ROCIC in Louisiana this year.

These types of home improvement or contractor scams are more active in the south during the winter. The con-artists often travel to areas and offer to do work like exterior painting, driveway repairs, seal roofs, prune trees, exterminate or install lightning rods.

Traveling scammers have also been known to damage a home in some way and then offer to repair the problem with a cheap solution. Oftentimes they work in pairs and one scammer keeps you engaged in conversation, while their partner-in-crime goes inside your home to steal anything of value like jewelry or silverware.

Any work done is usually shoddy and they use inadequate and inferior materials. The job is typically not completed, leaving the homeowner stuck with hiring someone else to fix the mistakes.

While many of these traveling scams happen after a major storm, flood or weather event when a lot of homeowners are trying to repair their homes, contractor scams can happen any time. A big red flag are contractors driving around in unmarked trucks, or with out-of-state license plates and phone numbers. This could be a good indication they are a traveling crew who might be out to scam you.

Construction worker
The East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office has issued a scam alert for Louisiana homeowners that fake home improvement contractors are going door-to-door preying on residents.

Here are six tips to help you spot a scam: 

  • Watch out for “red flags” – Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, upfront payments, handshake deals without a contract, and on-site inspections. Not all contractors are con artists, but you should be extra cautious anytime a contractor contacts you first, especially if they show up uninvited on your doorstep.

  • Check their references – Bad contractors will be reluctant to share this information, and scammers won’t wait for you to do your homework. If you can, get references from past customers, both older references to check on the quality of the work and newer references to ensure current employees are up to the task. You can also check them out on the Better Business Bureau’s website or contact the BBB South Central Louisiana by calling (225) 346-5222.

  • Get estimates in writing – Always get a written contract with the price, materials and timeline. The more details the better. You can also get quotes from more than one contractor.

  • Know the law – Work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing, and insurance. Confirm that your vendor will get related permits, and make sure you know who is responsible for securing those permits, according to your local laws and that your contractor will comply.

  • Take your time & trust your gut – Do not let anyone pressure you into making a quick decision. trust your instincts, if you feel uneasy don’t feel pressured into making a decision. Your home is likely your biggest investment. You should research reputable, highly-rated and licensed contractors in your area using Google Business reviews. Ask family, friends or neighbors to recommend or refer you to a reputable contractor they have used.

  • Report scammers – If you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam or home improvement contractor, do not confront them. Report them to authorities. If you feel threatened or have been the victim of a theft, call 911 for emergencies and for non-emergencies call your local police department or sheriff’s office. 

Lastly, remember the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. 

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area. 

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