Beware if someone offers to fix the cracks in your asphalt driveway and insists on advance payment.
John Baldwin of Kennewick called the Herald to warn about a man who came to his home and offered to take care of his driveway for $450. When the man asked for an advance, Baldwin refused.
Baldwin, 66, said he told the man he would like to see his business license and would need to see a contract for the repairs. The man agreed to do the job the next day but he never showed up for work.
"Scammers are out there," said Sgt. Ken Lattin of the Kennewick Police Department. They're always looking for victims to prey upon, he said, and they use a variety of schemes to take money from unsuspecting people.
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It's critical for people to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate businesses by checking with the Better Business Bureau, Lattin said.
Norma Miller, Tri-Cities based business consultant with the Better Business Bureau, said the agency hears a lot about possible landscaping and asphalt paving scams in the spring and summer months.
Typically, these scammers go door to door offering their services and try to target older people, who are generally more trusting and used to doing business with a handshake, Miller said.
The man who offered to repair Baldwin's driveway drove a dark blue SUV with no front license plate. He told Baldwin he had noticed the cracked driveway while driving past his home near West Sixth Avenue and Kellogg Street.
When Baldwin said he couldn't afford what the man said he would charge, he offered a $100 discount. Baldwin said he felt something was fishy about the man's sales pitch because the cracks on his driveway aren't visible from the street.
Baldwin said he later called police and told them about the incident. The man is described as white, 5-foot-8, and weighing about 195 pounds.
-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com