Cedar Park PD warns of door-to-door landscaping scam
Cedar Park residents are keeping an eye out for a landscaping company that, some say, is scamming homeowners.
Back in November, Sylvia Pearson got a knock at the door from a landscaping company asking her if she’d like fresh mulch throughout her front yard. She saw this as an opportunity to help out a local company ahead of the holidays. The verbal agreement was $10 a bag and her yard could use 25 bags. She thought $250 would be a fair price.
When the dirt was down and done in less than an hour, Pearson said the workers knocked on her door and told her they actually used 120 bags. What was once $250 had become $1200.
“My first instinct was, ‘there’s no way. I mean, how do you estimate so poorly,’” she said.
Pearson refused to pay full price and gave the workers an $800 check. Once the money was in their hand, Pearson said their reaction to it let her know this was a scam operation.
“He said, ‘we’re going to have a really good Thanksgiving on you,’ which really upset me,” she said.
She posted about her experience on the Nextdoor app and learned multiple others in her neighborhood had gone through the same ordeal. One woman, she said, was charged 300 bags and didn’t have the money. So the workers said “we’ll drive you to the bank.”
Cedar Park Police said they’ve received eight total calls regarding scams or disputes over mulch related landscaping work in 2017 starting back in February and running until November.
Pearson ended up canceling the check so the landscapers had to come back. When they did police were also at her home. She said police told the landscaping company that since this was just a verbal agreement, they could take their dispute to small claims court.
Pearson said she hasn’t heard from the workers since then, but she has seen posts on Nextdoor about the company in surrounding neighborhoods.
Sgt. Larry Bond with Cedar Park Police’s Criminal Investigations Division offers tips to protect yourself from door-to-door solicitation:
- Always ask to see a copy of the peddlers permit. If they are legitimate they should not have a problem displaying nor showing the permit.
- Never allow unknown persons into your home. The majority of these are only wanting access to the home to surveil the contents.
- Never provide any personal or identifying information to the peddler. Many will ask what you believe are benign questions such as: Do you work? What time do you get home? Do you have any dogs? All of the answers gives them the necessary information to make you a victim.
- Always ask the peddler for a business card or website that you can look up and verify their identity and business service. Legitimate businesses will have business cards, website, insurance, and so forth.
- Ask for references that you can actually contact in reference what they are selling or the work they are performing.
- Never pay up front before the work is complete. Do not allow/accept any work without a written contract prior to the job starting
- Use your resources (Internet searches, talk to your neighbors, join Nextdoor, which connects residents in their respective neighborhoods).
- Gut Instinct ( If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t- tell them to leave and call the police)