Avoiding asphalt paving scams

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CHEYENNE, Wyo - Summer is approaching and the Consumer Protection Unit of the Wyoming Attorney General's Office warns consumers to exercise caution when dealing with door-to-door solicitors who offer asphalt paving services at "special discounted" prices. Ben Burningham from the Attorney General's office and Sam Shumway from AARP Wyoming sat down with the morning show to discuss ways to steer clear of this scam.

Here is what to look for in the Asphalt Paving Scam:

It's been reported paving crews approach their homes uninvited and offer paving services that purported discount because they supposedly have material leftover from another job that would go to waste if not used soon.

The crews often give vague verbal estimates that fail to inform consumers of the actual costs and promise the work includes robust warranties. When finished with jobs, the crews routinely demand payment in amounts that far exceed the vague estimates.

If consumers complain, these crews typically promise to seal coat the freshly applied asphalt at a significant discount. The scammers then accept payment, but never return to provide the promised service. Shortly after these crews complete paving jobs, driveways exhibit signs of substandard work.

In the past year, the Consumer Protection Unit has learned of over 50 consumers and businesses that have fallen victim to paving scams over the last few summers. These victims come from all parts of the state, including Campbell, Fremont, Laramie, Lincoln,Natrona, Park, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Uintah, and Weston counties.

Here are ways to make sure you are using a reputable source:

Obtain multiple written estimates: Seek referrals from persons you know and trust, and then obtain written estimates from more than one of the referred contractors.

Verify compliance: Verify the contractor is in compliance with local licensing, bonding, and insuring requirements.

Verify location: Verify the contractor has a permanent location. Many travelling asphalt pavers pretend to be local, but actually drive trucks with out-of-state license plates and list UPS store mailboxes, RV parks, or hotels as their business addresses.

Get it in writing: Obtain a detailed written contract before the contractor begins the work and get a receipt for your payment after the contractor finishes the work.

Avoid advance payments: Limit what you pay in advance, never paying in full until the work is completed.

Wyoming consumers who believe they have interacted with asphalt paving scammers should contact the Consumer Protection unit toll free at (800) 438-5799 or by e-mail at AGConsumer@wyo.gov.

If you think you have been scammed or have questions about scams you can always use the AARP Fraud Watch Network which was launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. The Website provides information about fraud and scam, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map, fun educational quizzes, and video presentations featuring renowned security expert Frank Abagnale.

Users may sign up for "Watchdog Alert" emails that deliver breaking scam information, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling.

For more information check out the interview from the morning show.