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Asphalt scammers targeting city

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera City Marshal Charlie Hicks is warning homeowners of a possible scam reported locally that involves paving driveways with asphalt.
"Although these scams tend to be more common near the end of summer months, it has been found that during the holidays, these bogus 'contractors' may be attempting to get rid of excess materials that they did not use over the peak months," Hicks explained.
He wanted residents to be aware of what to watch out for if presented with a similar scenario. After emphasizing that not all asphalt operations are illegitimate, Hicks added some operational procedures may be warning signs indicating potential problems.
According to the Better Business Bureau, signs of a less-than-reputable operation may include:
• Selling door-to-door - Reputable asphalt contractors will rarely - if ever - sell their product door-to-door.
• Claims of 'leftover asphalt' from another job - Professional asphalt contractors know with great accuracy how much paving material is needed to complete a project. Rarely will they have leftover material.
• Pushing a homeowner to make a quick decision - Trustworthy contractors provide a written estimate that should be valid for a specified amount of time. Never hire someone on the spot.
• No written contract - Insist on a written contract specifying in detail the work to be performed and the agreed total price, not just price per square foot.
• Cash-only sales - Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and don't require cash-only terms.
• Deals that seem too good to be true - If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of work will also be quite low.
• Contractor is from out of state or drives an unmarked truck - Itinerant scammers will often drive unmarked trucks or have out-of-state license plates. Even if they have a local phone number, scammers have recently been purchasing local cell phone plans to appear as if they are an area business. However, a little research will reveal that they have no permanent address or are traveling from out of state.
In an interview, Bandera Chief Deputy Scott MacNaughton noted that asphalt scams have been a problem in this area for the past couple of years. "I actually took two or three reports regarding this while working at the Bandera County Sheriff's Office," he said.
"Additionally, within the last two weeks, we've had some reports of these 'companies' being seen cruising town and parked at local hotels. We want citizens to be aware that Bandera has been targeted."
If home or business owners encounter situations similar to those described, they are urged to file a report with the office of the Bandera City Marshal at 830-796-3456.
"Please report any suspicious activity to us immediately," Hicks said. "Don't be a victim and don't let a scammer ruin your holidays."