Homeowner, check washing scams loom ahead of fall season, BBB warns

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, October 2, 2022
Homeowner, check washing scams loom ahead of fall season, BBB warns
The Better Business Bureau is warning people of an increased potential for scams this fall ranging from check washing to Medicare fraud.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fall brings in new scams. The Better Business Bureau is urging homeowners to be alert of the most common scams during this time of year.

Those scams include home improvement, furnace, roof and other seasonal scams.

"The fall season is notorious for home improvement scams," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau. "Fraudsters see this time as a prime opportunity to rip-off homeowners, and in some cases, steal thousands of dollars for unnecessary or shoddy work."

Typical home improvement scams include chimney and roof repairs, gutter cleaning, energy audits and more.

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The BBB is also warning of Medicare scams as open enrollment starts Oct. 15. The scammer will tell you that your Medicare will be discontinued if you didn't reenroll.

"Con artists claiming to be a 'health care benefits advocate or a similar title' will allege they can enroll you in a better program than what you currently have," Bernas said. "(Scammers) will claim this new plan is cheaper, and you can keep all the same services. To get started, all you need to do is provide some personal information, such as your Medicare ID number. Of course, the call is a scam, and sharing personal information will open you up to identity theft."

Check washing is also a concern, according to the BBB. Scammers wash checks in a simple bath of household chemicals to erase the original name and dollar amount written on the check. The process leaves a blank space where the "Pay to" name and dollar amount used to be.

A simple $25 birthday check can be converted into a $2,500 check. Experts estimate it's an $815 million business and growing.

"Even businesses are now being impacted," Bernas said. "Anyone who writes and mails a check is at risk."