Duct Cleaning Scam: Everything you need to know
Unfortunately, duct cleaning has a notorious amount of scammers defrauding unsuspecting customers. There are warning signs to watch out for a possible duct cleaning scam.
Are you worried that you may have unsuspectingly fallen victim? You are not alone. In recent years, fraudulent businesses claiming to specialize in air duct and dryer vent cleanings have infiltrated the market, preying on innocent homeowners.
Air duct cleaning scams often involve practices such as overcharging for services, using inferior products and equipment, employing unqualified personnel to complete the job at hand – all too familiar tales of money wasted without any real benefit from the so-called service providers.
It’s important to do your due diligence when it comes to selecting an honest and qualified contractor for a professional home air quality assessment or duct cleaning service; but how can you avoid being taken advantage of by scammers? Here is what every homeowner should know about identifying potential fraudsters before they ever enter your house!
Here are a couple of ways scammers can approach:
1. Unwanted Phone Calls
Most reputable companies do not cold call customers. Reputable companies rely on word of mouth and print advertising and allow customers to contact them directly to ask questions or book appointments.
You may have noticed an influx of phone calls in recent years to your personal mobile device: like imposters of the CRA, provincial police, and of course, cold calls for duct cleaning.
Typically, these callers are calling using automatic dialing computer telemarketing software, and are calling from an international location because of legal restrictions in Canada.
I think we all can agree, spam callers can be frustrating. Personally, I have my own arsenal of jokes to deal with the spam callers. For duct cleaning, I use: “No, my ducks just had a bath.” or “I have no ducks but my geese could use a cleaning.” This is usually enough to get them to hang up in confusion or frustration.
Telemarketing Rules for Compliance in Canada
Here’s is the skinny they don’t want you to know. The government of Canada has strict legislation and marketing compliance rules in place for telemarketing since 2003 that all Canadian companies have to follow.
If they are calling you unsolicited, about a non-charitable item, then chances are they are calling from an overseas location and might not be operating within the bounds of Canadian Legislation.
Read more about telemarketing rules and compliance at the Government of Canada Telecommunications Commission page. Additionally, here is where you can register your phone number to be on the Canadian National Do Not Call list.
2. Social Media Duct Cleaning Scams
This area is unfortunately where most unsuspecting customers get scammed into booking with lesser quality companies.
The Buy/Sell Scam
An individual will post in buy/sell groups without including any information about their company.
Reputable companies do not post on Buy/Sell groups on Facebook without giving the company name in the description. These companies will also have full transparency in their posts. Meaning, that within a couple of clicks, you will be able to get access to all official information like a Facebook page, along with links out to their website, which should get you access to a company phone number.
What to Look For – Company Information
Oftentimes, people will ask, “What company is this?” The person posting will then give an incredibly generic company name such as ‘Efficient Duct Cleaning’ or ‘Clean Air Duct Cleaning’. These names are given on purpose as they are incredibly hard to Google to find reviews as they are too generic to give good search results.
What to Look For – Are the pictures provided legitimate?
There are almost always pictures depicting duct cleaning scenes. The pictures do not show any company names or logos. Do a quick reverse image search on Google. You will find the same photo in hundreds of other advertisements in different cities.
What to Look For – Is the person posting a legitimate person, or a fake profile?
Look at the original person posting the advertisement. Go to their profile and you will almost always find a profile that is either extremely new or locked down with no company information in their About section.
Look at the profile URL, the name might not even be the name associated with the profile that is visible. It has been changed to be an extremely generic name.
McAffee has a great article on how to spot a fake profile.
What to Look For – Private Messages from someone claiming to be from the organization referred in a community page
Often times, people belong to community groups on Facebook. Scammers will join, pretending to be a part of said community.
When a person will post asking for referrals for a good duct cleaning company, the scammer will take note of what companies are being recommended.
They will then privately message the person asking for recommendations pretending to be from one of the recommended companies and book that customer in for an appointment. This duct cleaning scam happens more often than not.
3. Coupon Special Scams
These are usually “intro prices” for 49.00 and the company comes out and sprays something in your vents, uses a shop VAC to clean the vents and then says they are finished. This does nothing. Avoid this. The purpose of this, is to get in front of you to upsell you to buy the full service which is usually more expensive then regular companies. Basically the cost of a 49 dollar coupon is you paying them to come and try and sell you a service, nothing more.
What happens when a non-reputable company that is booked shows up to do the work.
So how does the scam work if you have unknowingly booked a less than reputable company?
- Oftentimes they won’t ask for a deposit to give a false sense of security.
- Occasionally, they will come in using less that stellar machinery that equivalent to a glorified shop vacuum that merely pushes the dirt around giving the appearance of cleanliness.
- Others will claim a fee upon arrival, but will continuously add up vent charges and the bill you are left with are much higher than the original quote.
- They will show you photos that are falsified before and after pictures of ‘your’ ducts but are, in reality, of someone else’s home.
What Can you do to Protect Yourself?
- If someone reached out to you claiming to be part of a reputable company, look up that company’s information and give them a call to confirm. We’re becoming savvy online consumers, use your common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, it might not be.
- Inspect the equipment they are using to perform the duct cleaning. Reputable companies have a duct cleaning truck with a powerful suction capability. If they are not attaching a large hose to your duct work, something isn’t right.
- Watch this article. From time to time, as we run into more scams, we will add them to this article.
About our Business Practices
Total Aire Care will never engage in telemarketing nor will go door to door. We do not subcontract duct cleaning to other companies. We perform the work ourselves under our name. For more information, please get in touch with.
For more information on how serious this problem is, please check out Canaduct’s article on telemarketing fraud in the GTA.