Can I Be Scammed in a Home Improvement Project?

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July 15, 2022 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
Predators robbing seniors of their savings has been called “the fastest growing crime in the country.” Older adults are prime targets for financial exploitation, both by people they know and trust and by strangers. Financial exploitation is believed to cost older adults over $36 billion annually.

Most seniors never report abuse, even when they know their money’s being taken. That’s because they’re overwhelmed at the idea of involving the police, or fear being forced to go to a nursing home or are ashamed, especially when the abuser is a family member or caregiver.

The Laconia Daily Sun’s recent article entitled “Elder abuse and home improvement scams” says that isolation of the victim by the perpetrator is a strong indicator of undue influence.

The victim is often already living alone and sometimes is removed from contact with outsiders, because of physical limitations or a psychological fear of leaving the home.

Home improvement scams can jeopardize a senior's independence because they can rob that individual of money, equity in their home or even a safe place to live.

Older adults are most likely to have a “nest egg,” own a home with equity and have excellent credit.

Seniors may need home modifications to accommodate changing needs. As a result, they make a perfect target for dishonest contractors.

Scam artists target homeowners in a variety of ways, causing them to lose thousands of dollars and even their homes. Some of the strategies scam artists often employ include:

  • Using high-pressure tactics to sell a range of services including roof, sidewalk and driveway repairs;
  • Charging inflated prices
  • Providing sub-standard work
  • Impersonating a building inspector or other official and demanding immediate repairs
  • Getting funds to pay for services by urging the homeowner to work with a certain lender or advising them to get a reverse mortgage; and
  • Identifying potential victims by scouting out neighborhoods (most notably after natural disasters), then targeting vulnerable older adult homeowners.

Reference: Laconia Daily Sun (May 26, 2022) “Elder abuse and home improvement scams”

Suggested Key Terms: Elder Law Attorney, Elder Abuse, Financial Abuse

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