The Melrose Police Department is warning residents to beware of chimney sweep scams after two city residents were approached by would-be scammers recently.

Home improvement scams such as those which claim homeowners need chimney repairs, often prey on the elderly, initially offering low prices for work, but then increasing the prices as the scammers claim to find additional work that needs to be done. Once homeowners decline to pay up front for increasingly expensive work, the scammers often disappear and leave work they started unfinished.

The Melrose Police Department wishes to share the following tips regarding home improvement contractor scams from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:

  • Scammers often approach potential victims for home improvement scams by phone, email or by traveling door-to-door, and may claim they’ve been performing work locally and have surplus material.
  • Scammers frequently offer their services at a very low price.
  • Check to make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by using their home improvement contractor registration look up service. Request a business card or website address for the contractor’s business.
  • Be wary if the individual is driving an unmarked motor vehicle.
  • Request a copy of the company’s standard contract.
  • Learn where the company is based out of, whether they are a local business and verify a minimum of three references.
  • Inquire about whether the company will provide a warranty and how long that warranty will last.
  • Remain wary if a severe weather event has just occurred. Scammers often take severe weather storms as an opportunity to target potential victims for home improvement scams.
  • Never pay more than one-third the total cost of a service upfront, in cash, and only do so once you have verified that this person is a registered home improvement contractor and you have a contract.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB) can verify whether the company is a member, and the BBB, as well as the Office of the Attorney General, can also tell you if there have been complaints filed against the company.

The Melrose Police Department is actively investigating these incidents. Anyone who believes these suspects are in their neighborhood or who has information about these incidents is encouraged to contact the Melrose Police Department at 781-665-1212.