Beware of Chimney Sweep Scams
The chimney sweep business is no different than any other in one regard: If you get an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Something very unique about chimney sweeping is that it is an unregulated industry. Anyone can knock on doors and claim to be a chimney sweep, even if they have no training or even any tools of the trade. This alone should put homeowners a little on their guard about hiring qualified chimney sweeps, but it’s not the only reason. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) periodically sends out consumer alerts about chimney sweeping scams. They get hundreds of complaints every year about fraudulent chimney sweeps who trick homeowners into spending hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs or for repairs that are improperly done. Sometimes the frauds simply take the money and run.
There are numerous tricks used by chimney sweep scammers. Here are a few of them:
- A caller will identify himself or herself as being from a chimney sweep company that has a name similar to one in your area that you are likely to be familiar with. They may actually claim to be from a chimney sweep company that you have hired previously. They will make a pitch that they are, for instance, offering great discounted prices on chimney inspections in your neighborhood for the next week only. If something similar to this ever happens to you, get their phone number and follow up by calling the chimney sweep company with the number listed on the website. In the process of verifying who actually made the call, you could uncover a scam and help save yourself and your neighbors a lot of money.
- After scammers trick you into hiring them at a low cost, they will claim that some extensive repair work is required before you can safely use your fireplace again. Even if they go through the motions of performing the work, after they receive payment, you won’t be able to find them to follow up on problems with their repairs. Keep in mind that the lowest price you can usually get for an inspection performed by professional chimney sweeps is somewhere around $125.
- Some scammers go door-to-door and offer to perform the work at a greatly reduced price. They ask for a deposit to reserve an appointment, and you never see or hear from them again. One thing you can do if someone comes to your door is check to see if they have a uniform and if their vehicle is marked with the name of the company, which both lend some legitimacy to a business.
- In some instances, people knocked on doors and claimed to be with the local fire department. They recommended a particular chimney sweep company. The most common targets are elderly people. This scenario is something that will never be done by anyone but a fraud.
In tough economic times, scammers try to take advantage of the fact that people are trying to save money in any way they can. If you get a suspicious offer either on the phone or from someone who knocked at your door, don’t simply take the person’s word for it about a chimney sweeping offer. Do a thorough check to make sure the company is legitimate. Better yet, eliminate the guesswork and just give us a call today to schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004