BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PETER ABBATE
Unfortunately, financial crimes against the elderly are a growing problem within our community, the city and the state. My district offices have been made aware of contractors and scam artists preying upon senior citizens and have left countless victim to their crimes.
Whether it be through legislating or through outreach, it is important that seniors have the information they need to help identify scams before they wreak havoc on their lives.
One of the main fraud schemes in the city is home improvement fraud. Predatory contractors search out those most vulnerable and take advantage of them.
The best way to defend yourself is to be informed and cautious when entering into any contract or business agreement. When searching for a contractor or doing business with someone, it is best to make sure you know them or can easily vet their resume.
Whether they come as a referral from a trusted source or you know them personally, being comfortable with your choice is essential.
New York City’s 311 program is a useful tool to combat fraud. It provides complaint histories and information on license status. Take your time to do research and never feel forced to sign yourself up for anything without being properly informed.
Make sure to pay close attention to the details in any contract or agreement you may make with someone. Contracts should include specifics and, if for your home, be written in accordance with the Home Improvement Business Law of New York City. Certain provisions must be included and signed by all parties involved to be a valid document.
Most importantly, when doing business with anyone, you should make sure to get detailed and itemized receipts for the work being done and never pay in cash. Knowing this very simple step is the easiest way to protect you and your family from monetary loss.
When victims of fraud and scams come into our office, many are scared to come forward. Intimidation and possible retribution can be daunting, but it is of the utmost importance you come forward and report these crimes.
If you believe you have been or someone you know is the victim of a fraud, please contact my District Office at 718-232-9565. We will help you contact the appropriate channels and agencies.
Peter Abbate represents the 49th Assembly District in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Sunset Park.