Avoiding Tree Service Scams

You can avoid being duped by fraudsters posing as legitimate professional tree care companies by knowing what signs to look for that may indicate you’re dealing with a scammer.

It’s a well-known fact that there are con artists everywhere looking to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting individuals. No industry is spared from this unfortunate reality – even tree service companies. While these pretenders can strike at any time, they often wait for the opportune moment when their ‘services’ might come in handy, such as after a storm or similar natural calamity when homeowners are likely to be impacted and need to deal with downed trees. Still, others might try to tell you that they were in the neighborhood and noticed that the trees around your property pose a potential risk. In both scenarios, they will offer to do the work for you for a discounted rate provided you pay them straightaway.

Signs of Tree Service Scammers

1. Door-to-door contractors.

One of the first signs of a tree service scammer is when they go door-to-door looking for potential customers. It is very rare that a reputable and legitimate tree care provider will go knocking on doors for work. Beware of anyone offering their service to you in this way.

2. Their services are either too low or too expensive.

If the tree service company gives you a price that sounds too good to be true considering the amount of work that needs to be done, then it probably is. They might not have the necessary experience in the field, not to mention licensing and insurance. If an accident occurs, you might become liable for the financial repercussions.

On the other hand, if the price seems much too steep, it’s best to refuse the offered services as well. For instance, if you only need a relatively short tree trimmed and the job won’t require the use of special equipment, they shouldn’t be charging you $2,500.

Always remember to obtain about 3-4 estimates from various trustworthy tree care companies.

3. They ask for payment right away – in cash – and often pressure you to agree to the service in a hurry.

Most scammers pressure their potential quarry to pay right away and accept their offer at once, saying that their ‘offer is only good for today’. They will tell you that they only accept cash; once you hand the payment over, they will either do the work haphazardly, or promise to come back with the ‘proper tools’ or once they’ve ‘finished up a job for your neighbor’.

Never agree to pay in advance of completed work and don’t allow yourself to be pressured for an immediate decision.

4. They can’t provide proper credentials and are offended when you ask for proof of insurance.

Check to make sure that they are properly licensed, bonded and insured. Don’t settle for anything less than proper proof of insurance, both personal and property damage liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. You can verify this information with your state’s Attorney General office.

Professional arborists carry Certified Arborist credential provided by the International Society of Arboriculture.

5. They refuse to give you a written contract agreement.

Since most scammers will want you to agree to their offer and pay them right away, they won’t take the time to provide you with a written estimate. You should insist on a contract that details all the costs involved, estimated start and completion date for the job, and list of tasks that need to be performed, including information on how cleanup will be handled. If they refuse to provide you with this, then you should also refuse their services.

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