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Duff Warns About Chimney Sweep Con Artists

NORWALK, Conn. – After receiving an unsolicited call at his home this week from someone offering to perform a chimney cleaning, State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) is urging residents to hang up the phone if they receive these types of calls.

"The person on the other end of the phone tried to get me to think that I may have used his company before since he was a new employee. He offered to come out the very next day for the low price of $70," Duff said. "When I reminded him that I was on the 'do not call list,' he continued to try and sell me his bill of goods and became increasingly agitated."

Duff said that the phone number on his caller ID was a computer-generated number and not connected to a real company. The person claimed to work for Lysco Corporation, which is licensed by the state of Connecticut but has a New York address. However, they are rated "F," according to the Better Business Bureau.

"A quick Internet search shows that this company has had a lot of problems. With winter on the way, I want to get the word out as quickly as possible to warn people not to fall for these types of bullies in person or on the phone," Duff said.

Here's some information from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection:

? Repairs covered under the Home Improvement Law include everything from installation or repair of a chimney cap to liner replacement or repair and even mortar replacement.

? Never hire a chimney sweep who shows up at your door uninvited. There are many home improvement scams that commonly take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners; fly-by-night chimney sweep scams are one of the most prevalent.

? Beware of telemarketing offers where someone offers you a very, very low price to come and clean your chimney. If someone is trying to get in at a low price or is calling you out of the blue, he may just want to get his foot in the door, because he's really looking to do some type of repair work.

? Some scammers provide photos they claim are from inside or outside of your chimney to convince you that your chimney needs repair. You have to be sure the photos are actually of your home. Any pictures provided to justify getting work done should include something in the photo or in the background that identifies it as your home.

? Some scam artists show debris from a chimney as an indicator that's something's broken. If the company claims this debris shows your liner is broken or collapsed and that you need a new liner system, get a second opinion, or have them show you where it is broken.

? Beware of attempts to frighten you. If you get the feeling that a salesperson or sweeper is using terms like “carbon monoxide poisoning” or “house fire” in a way that feels alarming, you should get another opinion. This could very well be a “hard sell” tactic.

? If you are being pushed to make an immediate decision, then make the decision to look for someone else.

? You can get information from the Chimney Safety Institute of America or the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) .

? Before hiring anyone to repair your chimney, ask to see their certificate and identification. Feel free to contact the state Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to verify the legitimacy of their certificate and to check on any complaints against them. Call the DCP at (860) 713-6110 or use the online license verification system.

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