Today, most advertising for services is found online. Every time you log onto a social media platform, e-mail, or a search engine, you are bombarded with advertisements. The good news is what you are looking for is at your fingertips, but the bad news is there are an equal number, if not more, scammers advertising as well. One way to start protecting yourself is to know what to look for in a reputable company; in addition to, knowing the warning signs of a potential scam.
How to spot a scammer?
Let us start with helpful hints for spotting a scammer on Facebook and other social media platforms:
- The person advertising a service will not state the company name on public forum
- The person advertising asks you to check your private messages (PM) for details. This often happens when you ask for the following: a website, phone number, or name of company because as stated above, the scammer does not like to post information on a public forum.
- The person advertising a service has a social media profile that was recently created, has stock photos and has very few friends or you cannot see the friend list.
- When the person advertising uses the verbiage “the first five commenters will receive a special discount,” “I am in the area, few appointments available now,” or “trust my work not my words.” These phrases do evolve or may have some variation, but these are a few of the most used among scammers.
- When the advertisement for duct cleaning includes a whole house special at an extremely reduced rate
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, professionally cleaning an entire system in an average-sized home typically ranges in cost from $450 to $1,000. However, there are several factors that affect cost and estimate times i.e. the type of ductwork, system size, number of areas in a home, etc.
- When the advertisement uses verbiage such as “monster vacuum truck with 25,000 cfms of vacuum suction or include that the total air pressure is 250 PSI.” The normal power vacuum truck for cleaning air ducts has approximately 15,000 cfms of vacuum power and the normal air pressure is only around 190 PSI.
- Be sure to take notice of the photos showing the before and after photos of the work being advertised. Grainy, blurry and/or cropped photos are usually a red flag! Scammers tend to re-post photos of another company’s equipment and work, which is the reason behind the poor-quality photo and/or crop due to removal of a logo.
- When the person advertising has a profile that states their occupation and work location as “HVAC technician at Heating Cooling and Ventilation.”
How to prevent yourself from being scammed?
- Check the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) website to see if the company is NADCA certified
- Check the Better Business Bureau, Google, and other review sites for feedback on the company
- Check to see if the advertiser is not fraudulently using another company’s name and website. Simply Google the company name provided and call the phone number directly listed on website to ensure that individual works for the advertised company.
- Check to see if the company holds the proper certifications as well as is insured and is a registered business with the State of New Jersey. A reputable company can provide this prior to arrival on job location.
- Check for watermark spots on the photos used for advertising to ensure it matches the company’s logo with whom you are looking to book the job.
- Type the phone number the advertiser provided you into Google and see what pops up.
So the next time you hire a company to perform a service that you found on the internet or social media platform, be sure to do your homework first.