Happy spring! Let’s hope we’re finished with the frigid temps we had at the beginning of the year and we start seeing blooms on the trees soon.

Colorado continues to have a problem with motor vehicle thefts and we all need to do our part to combat this problem. This is a reminder to keep car doors locked and not leave anything of value in your car. Even your gym bag of sweaty clothes can be tempting as the thief won’t know what they’ve stolen until after your car is broken into or gone.  

This month, we are discussing contractor scams and what to look for to ensure the contractor is reputable and your home improvement projects go smoothly. Our Consumer Fraud Hotline (720-913-9179) receives year-round complaints from consumers who say they were ripped-off by a contractor who took their money but did not deliver on the services promised. Contractor complaints tend to have common themes: poor construction, shoddy materials used all of which add up to the job not living up to expectations. While many of these issues belong in civil court, some contractor issues can be criminal. Indicators of possible fraud or theft include a contractor being paid but never performing the work, or the project being started but never completed. If you have questions about a project, call the Consumer Fraud Hotline and the specialists will provide information.

One way to avoid construction headaches is by exercising due diligence before hiring a contractor. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has tips about how to avoid contractor fraud.



There is a scam going around in which a caller claims to be from the Denver Sheriff's Department. The person tells you that you missed a subpoena to testify or that you missed jury duty. The caller then directs you to come to court to pay a fine. The scammers are spoofing the Sheriff’s Department information line, making it look like a legitimate call. The Denver Sheriff's Department wants Coloradans to know that they will never request payment for not appearing in court, nor contact you by phone. If you receive a call like this, hang up and call our Consumer Fraud Hotline to report it.  

Avoid Contractor Fraud

Before reading the tips below on hiring a contractor, read this recent press release from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office about a couple indicted for a tree-trimming scam.


  • Be suspicious of any contractor who tries to rush you into committing to a project, especially on non-emergency or temporary repairs. If possible, shop around for a contractor by getting recommendations from friends and neighbors. Be wary of anyone knocking on your door offering unsolicited repairs to your home.
  • Never pay for work upfront. Always inspect the work and make sure you’re satisfied before you pay. Most contractors will require a reasonable down payment on work, but don’t pay anything until you have a written contract.
  • Get three written estimates for the work and compare bids. Check credentials with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Always have a written, detailed contract that clearly states everything the contractor is to do, including prices for labor and materials, clean-up procedures, and estimated start and finish dates. Never sign a contract with blank spaces which a crooked contractor can alter after they have gotten your signature.
  • Don’t believe a contractor who says they are supported by the government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not endorse individual contractors or loan companies; call FEMA toll-free at 800.621.FEMA for more information.
  • Avoid paying with cash; use a check or credit card instead. This creates a record of your payments to the contractor.

Here are more tips and information.

   I Hear You Knocking But You Can’t Come In

As warmer weather arrives, so do door-to-door solicitations. Be cautious anytime a stranger comes to your door, especially if they are trying to sell you goods or services. Read the recent press release from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office about a Denver door-to-door scammer here.

A common scam is con artists go door-to-door claiming that several robberies have been reported in the area. They claim they are a security company and offer a free security inspection. Once inside, the con artist steals on the spot or case the home for a future robbery. 

Another utility scam is even trickier. After a power outage, scammers pretend to be from a utility company and go door-to-door offering help to get your lights and power back on quicker— for a price, of course.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that some consumers fall for this because they are concerned about having the electricity or heat off for a few days. The scammer might make the charge seem relatively doable, only charging $50 or $100 upfront to make sure the lights or heat gets back on quickly. They may even look like a utility employee disguised in a uniform or a badge. No one from any utility company will go door-to-door asking for money. It's a scam. If you pay, you'll wait hours later: no lights, no cable, no heat, or water. What's more, there's no sign of the person you thought might have been the ray of light in your dark hours.


Here are some tips for avoiding door-to-door scams:

  • Don't do business on the spot. You can and should always get a second and even a third bid on any project.
  • Remember that a receipt is worth nothing unless the business is valid and reputable.
  • Never pay for services in cash and be wary of paying upfront for a product or service that will be delivered later.
  • Watch out for deals that offer steeply discounted prices that seem too good to be true.
  • Listen for scare tactics, like the solicitor telling you he smells a gas leak coming from your home.
  • Be sure you read and understand any agreements or contracts you sign.
  • Don't be afraid to offend someone by not doing business with them.
  • Never let someone into your home that you did not invite.
  • If the salesperson can’t provide a city or county license for door-to-door sales, it’s best not to buy anything from them. 

Do you suspect you've been scammed or exploited?

Report it to us by calling our Fraud Hotline.


The Denver DA's



Denver District Attorney's Office | 303-913-9000 | 201 W. Colfax Ave. | DenverDA.org

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