Colorado Hail Storms Slam Homeowners

 No Roof Scams Group Offers Homeowners Key Ways to Avoid Roofing Scam Artists

Roofer Checking Hail Damage

Homeowners with roof damage following recent hail storms should take plenty of time and do their homework before hiring a roof contractor, according to a group of nonprofit, government, and business organizations sponsoring the No Roof Scams campaign to fight roofing contractor fraud in Colorado.

The recent storms in Colorado Springs, Eaton, and surrounding communities pummeled homes and businesses with hail the size of golf and tennis balls damaging thousands of roofs. Colorado is number two in the country for insurance claims filed due to property damage from hail, which makes our state a magnet for fraudulent roof contractors. These storm-chasing, fly-by-night scam artists will often make false promises, insist on full payment upfront before work is completed, and sometimes they say they’re inspecting your roof when in fact they are creating damage where none occurred.

The No Roof Scams coalition advises homeowners to avoid being victimized by fraudulent contractors by doing the following:

  • Take your time when selecting a contractor.  Many contractors use fear tactics such as telling homeowners their ceiling or roof may collapse without immediate repairs.  Don’t fall for this ploy.
  • Most legitimate local roofing contractors do not knock on doors after a storm.  This is a classic technique utilized by out-of-state contractors who have no local presence.
  • Check out contractors before hiring anyone with two of Colorado’s excellent resources.
  • Get more than one estimate; make sure any contract includes all information required by Colorado law (http://coloradoroofing.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SB38FactSheet-20122.pdf).
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate, etc.” – fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
  • Under Colorado Law a contractor cannot pay, waive or rebate the homeowner’s insurance deductible.

Organizations participating in the No Roof Scams campaign include:

  • Better Business Bureau – Denver/Boulder
  • Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Colorado Division of Insurance (Department of Regulatory Agencies)
  • Colorado Roofing Association
  • Insurance Institute for Business &  Home Safety
  • National Insurance Crime Bureau
  • Property Casualty Insurance Association of America
  • Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association

Follow #NoRoofScams to learn more about how consumers can avoid being the victims of unethical roofing contractors and find reputable roofing contractors.

Work from Home? How to Decide on a Coworking Space

If you decide to go the coworking route, the big question is where. Do you want to be with the hip, entrepreneurial set, or do you prefer something more old-school?  Here are a few tips to help you decide:

Jim Carry on Computer

Be clear on what you want

Do you simply want a professional work environment, or is it a workplace community you’re looking for?  Figuring out exactly what you want from coworking is the first step in choosing your ideal venue.

Identify your ideal working environment

Some people can’t tolerate a pin dropping when they’re trying to meet a deadline, while others only get into their groove when they feel the bustle of daily life going on around them.  To identify your ideal working environment, ask yourself how much desk space you need, whether you’d love a gorgeous view, and ultimately whether you can tolerate the sound of other people’s clicking keyboards.

Consider the costs

Deciding how much to invest in an office space is always a consideration for a freelancer or small business owner.  Most facilities offer various tiers of membership tailored to different budgets and can start as affordably as $200 a month for “floating” desk space (you park your computer where you find an empty tabletop each day). Such memberships still include Internet, coffee, and educational trainings, but paying more can buy you a permanent desk, meeting space when needed, and various other perks such as access to on-site gyms or a transit pass.

Find your peeps

If building a workplace community and networking feature high on your reasons for coworking, think carefully about whom you’d want to share your office with.  Several coworking spaces attract distinct groups—computer programmers, creatives, designers, entrepreneurs, for example—leaving you to decide whether you want to meet people who are in a line of business similar to yours or who are refreshingly different.

Commitment or flexibility? 

Some venues offer full-time-only options whereas others accommodate people who prefer to work and pay on a part-time basis.  Some packages buy you assigned desk and locker space, while others may entail playing musical chairs every day. Choosing the best option depends on your budget, the nature of your work (try lugging that full-screen monitor around every day), and how much coworking time you need.

Location, location

Maybe all you care about is the length of your commute, or perhaps you think the right community is worth a longer trip. The good news is that coworking spaces are dotted throughout the region, meaning that most of us don’t have to travel far to get some focused work done and beat isolation.

Overwhelmed by your options? Just try them out. Nearly all coworking facilities offer a free day’s trial.

“Ugly” Instagram Con Leads to Hacking

Instagram users are reporting a new scam called the “Ugly List.” Instagram users are fooled into thinking a friend tagged them in a mean-spirited prank. However, it’s really a phishing con.

instagram

 
How the Scam Works:

You get an Instagram notification saying you’ve been tagged in a post. The catch? The post is called “Ugly List 2016,” and it was a friend who tagged you. How mean!

In the notification, there’s a link to see the full post. You click on it, and it leads to a page that appears to be the Instagram log in. You need to enter your username and password before you can see the “Ugly List.”

Don’t fall for it! The form is fake. It’s a way for scammers to steal usernames and passwords. Once scammers have your account info, they will hack your Instagram and tag your followers in new “Ugly List” posts, perpetuating the con and stealing more information.

Tips to avoid this con:

Do a quick search. Be wary of anything that is shocking or sensational on social media. If it seems suspicious, do an online search. If it’s a scam, chances are that other victims have posted complaints and information online.

Don’t trust your friends’ tastes online. It might not actually be them “liking” or sharing these scam posts. Their account may have been hacked.

Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.

Report an Instagram scam. Check out Instagram’s resources for reporting scams.

If your account has been hacked, see Instagram’s advice on securing your account and/or reporting the violation.

For More Information

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

Bayaud Enterprises Named BBB Nonprofit of the Month

DENVER–BBB serving Denver/Boulder is pleased to congratulate Bayaud Enterprises for being named our June Nonprofit of the Month. Currently operating out of offices in Denver, Bayaud Enterprises set the mission to create “Hope, Opportunity and Choice”, with work as the means through which people with disabilities and other barriers to employment can more fully participate in the mainstream of life.

Bayaud Enterprises has been changing the lives of thousands of individuals in the Denver community by providing employment training, assessment, coaching, placement and job mentoring services since 1969.

Bayaud Enterprises has been a BBB Accredited Charity for six years, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Bayaud Enterprises won the BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Trust in the large nonprofit category in 2014.

BBB Serving Denver/Boulder charity review program was developed to help donors make informed giving decisions and to promote high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. BBB reviews 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations using the BBB Standards or Charity Accountability. These standards go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal laws and regulations and cover four areas:

  • Governance and Oversight
  • Measuring Effectiveness
  • Finances
  • Fund Raising and Informational Materials

“With multiple programs offered to the Denver community to combat barriers to employment,” says Kim States, BBB Denver/Boulder CEO. “Bayaud Enterprises is a fantastic example of a nonprofit that is truly impacting the future of our community and the generations to come.”

In recognition of the Charity of the Month honor, BBB compiled a short video about Bayaud Enterprises. The video can be found athttps://youtu.be/Rpgs2xEI3WY or on the BBB Denver/Boulder YouTube page.

For more information on Bayaud Enterprises, visit http://www.bayaudenterprises.org/ or call 303.830.6885. Bayaud Enterprises is located at 333 W. Bayaud Ave. Denver, CO 80223

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

Renting? Make Sure the Place Really Exists Prior to Signing…

If you are hunting for an apartment on Craigslist, watch out for rental cons. A new report from New York University explores just how common these scams are.

Spoiler alert: they are everywhere.

Homer Rent

How the Scam Works:

You are looking at Craigslist apartment listings for a new place to live. You know that scams are common on the site, but just how prevalent are they? Very, according to the NYU researchers. Craigslist fails to identify more than half of rental scam listings, and suspicious posts linger for as long as 20 hours before being taken down.
Researchers reviewed more than 2 million for-rent posts and found 29,000 fake listings in 20 major cities. Of those, there were three key types of scams. In the first, a fake post instructs a would-be tenant to purchase a credit report. The scammer gets a commission from the credit reporting site, even though there is no property for rent.
In another scheme, con artists duplicate rental listings from other sites and post on Craigslist at a lower price. Prospective renters pay a deposit via wire transfer. Another pervasive scam is “realtor service” companies. Targets are asked to pay fees to access listings of pre-foreclosure rentals or rent-to-own properties. In the majority of cases, the companies leading the scams have no connection to the properties listed.

How to Spot a Rental Scam:

• Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card: You should never pay a security deposit or first month’s rent by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These payments are the same as sending cash – once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
• Watch out for deals that sound too good: Scammers lure in targets by promising low rents, great amenities and other perks. If the price seems much better than offered elsewhere, it may be a scam.
• See the property in person: Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised.
• Don’t fall for the overseas landlord story: Scammers often claim to be out of the country and instruct targets to send money overseas.
• Search for the same ad in other cities: Search for the listing online. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that’s a huge red flag.

 

GIF courtesy giphy.com & SimpsonsWorld.com

BBB Tips to Ensure Wise Giving on Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, the holiday that seeks to pay tribute to those who gave their lives serving in the military, many of us will pay respects to those who died by responding to requests for donations by veterans and military-affiliated organizations.  “As with any charity appeal, we urge donors to exercise caution and do some research before making a giving decision,” recommends H. Art Taylor, President and CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, “Donation requests by veterans groups are high around the Memorial Day holiday.”

As potential donors respond to appeals from such organizations, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advisory tips:

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Leverage Your Landscape Over the Neighbors

First, decide on the scope of your project. Do you want more color in the garden, a water feature, drip irrigation, walls, pathways, a deck, or more? You’ll need to clarify what improvements you want in order to choose a landscaper most suited to your project.

Bad Yardwork

Go big or go home. Small patches of color can work in a seating area where you’re right on top of the plantings; otherwise, paint with a big brush. Large swaths of color have the most impact for the long and middle views. Make a splash with large blossoms, such as peonies, hydrangeas, sunflowers, or multiflowered sprays that read as large blossoms like delphinium, snapdragons, and goldenrod. Plant in multiples: five tulips add color, but 30 make a statement.

Flower Kid

Dress for success. Just as you consider your skin tone, eyes, and hair color when you buy clothes, consider your house color and hardscaping when choosing color schemes.  One gardener loves purples and blues but found they didn’t work well when she lived on a property with a red barn. “I veered into a lot of the warmer colors,” she says. “I needed really deep, bright colors to show up against the barn.”

Sun Happy

Sun or shade. Colors perform differently in sun and shade. Deep, vibrant shades that catch fire in full sun look dark and dull in shade; conversely, pale hues that light up a shady corner can appear washed out in the sun.

Dog Rake

Don’t forget the greens. Foliage is to flowers as black velvet is to diamonds—it enhances the sparkle and color. But foliage can also be a design element  of its own. Think solid, speckled, striped, variegated, fat, skinny, smooth, bumpy, green, black, yellow, red, and purple.

Garden Loop

The hard stuff. Pops of garden color aren’t restricted to flowers. Add extra interest with ceramic urns, painted benches, weathered metal sculptures, or whatever catches your fancy. One gardener plays up the fiesta atmosphere on her deck with Chinese lanterns, paper stars, strings of lights, garlands of fans, and artifacts from her travels.

Lawnmower DogKeep it simple. Wandering through a nursery’s vast variety of species can be overwhelming. It’s easy to come home with either nothing or with a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t go together. It’s wise to control the variety of plants in your garden. A good rule of thumb is three of one variety of plant. Less really is more!

Gifs courtesy giphy.com

Sun Safety in the Workplace: The 5 S’s

Did you know that up to 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by prolonged or intense exposure to the sun? Outdoor workers spend more time exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and so are at greater risk of sun damage and skin cancers. With this in mind, The Five S’s of Sun Safety can guide you in safeguarding your employees:

Pinnacol-Sun-Safety

 Slip on sun-protective clothing
• Clothing can be one of the most effective barriers between our skin and the sun.
• Clothing should cover as much skin as possible.
• Always cover shoulders, which burn easily.
• A tighter weave provide most protection.
• A high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)-rated fabric offers best protection.

Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen
• Always use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and preferably water-resistant.
• Make sure sunscreen is broad-spectrum and carries a UVA symbol or minimum 4-star rating.
• Take sunscreen to work; store in an accessible, cool place; and remember to check the expiration date.
• For outdoor work, apply a generous amount to clean, dry, exposed skin.
• Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outdoors and preferably once again while outdoors.
• All sunscreens should be reapplied at least every two hours — more if perspiring heavily or after toweling dry.
• Remember to protect your lips with an SPF 30+ lip balm.

Slap on a sun hat
• Always wear a hat with a wide brim that shades the face, neck and ears.
• A close weave or UPF-rated fabric will provide best protection.
• Legionnaire (with a flap that covers the neck and joins the front peak) or bucket-style hats (with minimum 7.5cm brim) are most effective. Hard hats can be fitted with a sun peak and flap.

Slide on quality sunglasses
• Solar UV radiation can be damaging to the eyes, so it’s important to wear quality sunglasses.
• Protection depends on the quality of the lens and overall design.
• Sunglasses labeled with a high EPF (which ranges from 1-10) will offer best protection.
• Ensure they are close-fitting and wrap around to prevent solar UVR from entering the sides and top.

Shade from the sun whenever possible
• Shade can provide a good barrier between our skin and the sun.
• Seek shade whenever possible, particularly at the hottest times of the day between, 11a.m. and 3 p.m., when UV penetration is strongest.
• Move outside jobs inside or to shady locations when possible.
• Erect a temporary shelter or seek out the shade of trees or buildings when possible.
• Try to plan to complete outdoor jobs in the morning before 11 am or after 3 p.m., avoiding the hours of greatest sun intensity.
• Never rely on shade alone; always combine with personal protection measures.

Remember that UV radiation from the sun bounces off water, sand, concrete, light-colored surfaces and snow. These surfaces can considerably increase the strength of the sun’s damaging rays, so employees who work in these areas should exercise extra care.

Guard outdoor workers against exposure to substances that can increase the harmful effects of UV radiation. These substances include industrial chemicals such as asphalt and diphenyls (e.g., fungicides and pesticides), as well as certain medications (e.g., anti-inflammatories and antibiotics). Workers near these substances should exercise caution. A water-resistant sunscreen can protect the skin when contact with such substances is likely.

Is your workplace sun-safe?
We know that more than 80 percent of skin cancer cases are caused by overexposure to UV, so this hazard is largely preventable! Education about the prevention and early detection of this disease should be a priority for all organizations.

*This post is provided by: Pinnacol Assurance
To learn more about the BBB & Safety Group Programs visit: http://www.bbb.org/denver/safety-group-program/

Looking to Sell Stuff Online? Be Careful…

If you sell items online, watch out for this con. Scammers are fooling sellers with fake emails that appear to be payment confirmation messages from PayPal.

Monkey Computer

How the Scam Works

You post a big-ticket item (vehicle, computer, furniture) for sale on Craigslist, eBay or another online sales site.An interested buyer contacts you and says that he or she wants to buy the item right away and arranges to meet for the exchange.

When you arrive, however, the buyer doesn’t have cash. Instead, they claim to have sent the money through PayPal. You check your email and, sure enough, you have what appears to be a message from PayPal confirming the transfer. The scammer may even claim that the transfer is “invisible,” and that’s why you can’t see it in your PayPal account.

Of course, there is no such thing as an “invisible” transfer. The scammer didn’t send any money, and is just trying to take your item without paying. Some versions of this scam also have an overpayment twist.  In these, the scammer “accidentally” overpays you for the item. For example, he or she “sends” you $2,000 payment for the item you are selling for $200.  Then, he or she requests that you wire back the difference. By the time you figure out the PayPal transfer was a fake, the scammer is long gone.

Tips to avoid online sales scams:

  • Don’t accept checks or money orders: When selling to someone you don’t know, it is safer to accept cash or credit card payments.
  • Do not accept overpayments: When selling on Craigslist, eBay or similar sites, don’t take payments for more than the sales price, no matter what convincing story the buyer tells you.
  • Always confirm the buyer has paid before handing over the item. Don’t take the buyer’s word for it.
  • Be wary of individuals claiming to be overseas. In many different types of scams, con artists claim to be living abroad to avoid in person contact. Consider this a red flag.
  • Meet sellers/potential buyers in person and in a safe place: Meet in a public area and never invite buyers/sellers into your home. Ask your local police department if they have a “safe lot” program. Even if they don’t, suggesting the parking lot or lobby of a police station as a meeting place might be enough to scare off a scammer.

For More Information

Read more about selling on eBay, including what to do when sellers don’t pay. Also, check out Craigslist’s resources about avoiding scams when selling on the site.
To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

 

Spring Break Has Passed, Looking to Stay in Shape for Summer?

You may joined a gym during the winter months to stay warm and in shape, but with the sun shining warmer now, here are some tips for joining a gym or even staying with your current gym membership.

Choosing a gym is a lot like shopping for an apartment: there are a number of features to consider, and you’ll likely find something that meets most of your goals, but not all. Here are a few tips to help you when you’re choosing a fitness club or gym membership.

Mr Potato Head Lifting

Check out new member offers. Many gyms offer introductory specials, discounts, or free months. Be sure you read the fine print, and calculate how much you’re on the hook for paying—monthly or annually— after the special rate ends.

Read the renewal policy. Some gym contracts renew automatically, or a written notice 30 to 60 days before your existing contract expires. Make sure you know how and when you’ll need to approve or cancel a new contract, and add the date to your calendar after you sign up.

Know if there are early termination fees. Many fitness memberships require extra fees if you want to break your contract before your renewal date. Be sure to read these before you choose your gym, so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises.

Take your time to consider your options. Don’t be pressured to choose a membership quickly. A reputable fitness club or gym will give you time to read your contract, and answer any questions you might have.