LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)– A new scam is targeting small business home service providers. Although fake checks have always been a common scam tactic, this scam has a new twist, targeting businesses instead of consumers.

Scammers contact local contractors or service providers pretending to be associated with a property that may be for sale and in ruins and pretend to need work done. Scammers request a quote from the business and even send a check as payment. Contractors never get to talk to these people over the phone or in-person. The business is normally carried out via email or text message.

“They’re sending them a check for that amount but then a couple days later they change their lie and say if you could just wire the funds back to me, we’re not interested in proceeding with the project and we have had some businesses that send the money back to the consumer which is actually the scammer and the check is fake,” says Chris Babin of the BBB.

Most businesses that fall victim to this scam are eager for new clientele, and miss the red flags.

Here’s some tips from the BBB on how to avoid home service provider scams:

  • Don’t fall for an overpayment scam. Avoid any client that overpays and requests you to pay other contractors supposedly working on the property.
  • Insist on communicating over the phone at least once. Scammers claim they are either out of state or otherwise unable to meet in person.
  • Verify the state of the property. Despite clients’ claims that they own the property, it’s good practice for the business to conduct an on-site evaluation before providing a quote or estimate for the project.
  • Don’t provide refunds through nontraditional methods. Scammers know that payments made through wire transfers, gift cards and mobile banking apps are difficult to reverse.
  • Spend the time to verify the authenticity of the check. Fake checks can be challenging to identify and can significantly impact a business’s operations.

If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at smasters@klfy.com.