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BBB warns of scammers

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As always, spring marks the arrival of pretty blooms, yummy Shishkaberries and oily scam artists.

You heard that right. Warm weather brings scammers out from under their rocks to prey on unsuspecting homeowners with paving and landscaping swindles. So stay alert.

That’s the word from Elea Katzele, the new president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau for Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana. Last week, she swung through North Central Washington on a meet-and-greet that, at times, got pretty serious.

When a paver or landscaper arrives unbidden at your door, “Ask to see their license, ask if they’re bonded, ask for references,” said Katzele. “Then give us a call — just to double-check that the company is legit.”

Otherwise, you might face the fate of a Yakima senior who paid a paving company $6,300 for re-surfacing a driveway. The work was completed, but inferior materials were used. In a couple of months, the surface had cracked apart, weeds were growing and the homeowner was fuming.

“When this happens, people need some place to turn,” said Katzele, “and we think the Better Business Bureau is the place they should turn first.”

She’s out to remind folks that the BBB handles these kinds of complaints, keeps files on businesses, even does background checks on companies and individuals before they’re BBB accredited.

The organization, which is financed by dues from its 2,300 members, also hosts presentations for consumers on ongoing scams, school programs that emphasize character and ethics, workshops on financial literacy and, more recently, online reviews of area businesses (a la Angie’s List).

Details: You can reach BBB at their Spokane office at (509) 455-4200 or visit bbb.org.