Home inspectors are just like everyone else: phished by scams. Whether by phone, email, text, snail mail, or whatever future technology brings. No one is exempt. Be on guard, always. I have two examples of scams tried on my business this year, one. They stopped when I said no.
In late September, 2020 I received an email from a potential client wanting a home inspection in the city I live in. Who dislikes this type of lead? She said “I am a very busy woman and I need you to do many things for me.” What is the age and size? I quoted her $450. “OK I will pay you, but I need you to do other things.” I asked what are those things? No response received. 3 days later I received a check for $1950.00, with no instructions of what to do. I emailed her and said what do you want? She never answered the question, instead saying how busy she was and wanted me to be patient. An email from her mentioned a tile floor, but that was it.
Red whistles, flags, sirens and klaxon horns (AAH-OOO-GAH) are blaring!!! It is time to run, fast. I wrote VOID on the check and returned it to a water department address in CA. Her response: “You are stupid for wasting my time.” I’m stupid for wasting your time, but you are just plain stupid. HA!
Last week I got a text from a potential client. Do I do residential home inspections and do I accept credit card payments? OK, there is a red flag. I said yes, and quoted $440 for the house inspection and $150 for the radon test. Accepted my price estimate and wanted to pay me right now. 2nd red flag, 1st red whistle. “Thanks so much for the total cost sound good to me and I am ready to make full payment of $590 now with my credit card but before we process the payment I will need a little favor from you.” And what is that? I mutter to myself, “Uh-oh, here it comes.”
“The favor I need from you is concerning the initial ex owner of the property before you can be able to start working on the property, I still owe the initial owner closing fee and he does not accept credit cards.” (AAH-OOO-GAH). “So I want you to charge my credit card $3,590 plus extra credit card company charges once transaction is approved & Clears into your account you will deduct the of $590 as down payment of your service and help me send the remaining $3,000 to the initial owner so he can allow to start work do you understand?” I cannot do that. Nothing since for 4 days.
Here is my take. Both exhibited limited English language skills, and wanted me to:
charge their credit card immediately and above the quoted amount
do things that were, at best, against ASHI SOP
grant them favors
accept non-local phone area codes, most smartphone calls list the location. Ever see the ones that say United States without a locality? I’ll give that one a red vuvula blast. Vuvulas were the extremely loud horns blown by fans at the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
Many people think they are smarter than home inspectors. Red whistles, flags, klaxon horns, vuvulas, and sirens are blaring. People beware.