Preparing to inspect a chimney flue with a camera (C) Daniel Friedman Chimney Cleaning Fraud or Repair Scam Warning Notice

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Chimney cleaning fraud warnings:

This document warns consumers about a common consumer fraud involving promises of quick, cheap chimney inspection, cleaning or repair services. Chimney and flue safety hazards such as carbon monoxide gas leaks, fire hazards, and chimney inspection and testing are addressed.

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Chimney Scam Warnings - Consumer Warning Notice

Watch out for consumer fraud and scam operations that promise low-priced specials on chimney inspection, cleaning, re-lining, or repairs. Readers have informed us of a variety of common chimney rip offs involving professional criminals who combine information about new home buyers and local business names with a telephone promise of various chimney services such as chimney cleaning for $39.95. Homeowners attracted to this chimney deal may encounter scammers who arrive with a ladder, take a superficial look at a chimney, and claim that the chimney is unsafe, needs re-lining, or other treatment.

How to Avoid the Chimney Sweep Fraud Scam

Chimney moving at roof (C) Daniel FriedmanA clue from our photograph at left: if your "chimney repairman" doesn't even leave the ground, it's doubtful that he's a professional. But just placing a ladder against the building and "looking" is also not a professional nor thorough chimney inspection and certainly it's not a repair.

These warnings [adapted& quoting from] from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection can help consumers avoid getting scammed by a fake chimney service company:

More Tips to Avoid Home Repair Scams

New York State Consumer Protection Board providfes this general advice to avoid consumer home repair scams:

Realistic Prices for Chimney Services

According to a 2008 New York Times article by Jennifer Lee:

Melissa Heeke, a spokeswoman for the Chimney Safety Institute of America, an industry association, said, “Homeowners don’t have a good sense of what they should be paying.”

“We encourage people not to fall for a super-low price,” she said, adding that no legitimate chimney cleaning would cost $25 or $30; they usually cost up to $300. [this was a 2008 price - Ed.]

Recent Chimney Sweep or Repair Fraud Cases

Quoting from the Daily Freeman, a New York newspaper article published 11 December 2010

Police Chief Phil Mattracion said Friday that the con artists, who identify themselves as being with  All Purpose Chimney Care Inc., approach homeowners and tell them that their oil company has demanded they get their chimneys cleaned.

So far, Mattracion said, three property owners have been approached for a cleaning. One elderly person did pay the scam artists, but the check was later stopped by her son, Mattracion said.

Mattracion said police suspect the same scam was played out in October in Darien, Connecticut.

Mattracion said residents should not even discuss the matter with the con artists and call police immediately at (845) 647-4422.

Quoting from the DarienPatch, a Connecticut newspaper article published 29 January 2010

Following the arrests of two scam artists, the Darien Police and State Department of Consumer Protection urge residents to take necessary precautions when investing in home repairs.

... Clifford E. Kearns of Sheldon, NY and 26-year old John R. Rastrellie of Stuart Fl.—were arrested on Wednesday afternoon following a sting operation in which the two men tried to scam a 79-year-old Darien woman of $13,000 of unnecessary chimney repairs.

Chimney Fraud & Scam References


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