Watch Out For Roofing Scam Artists

Precisely because they’re awkward to access and difficult to inspect from a distance, roofs are often the subject of scams. The usual approach is for the crook to call at your front door, saying he noticed a problem on your roof (especially after a storm) or your chimney stack. He may claim it’s in dangerous condition before offering to carry out an urgent repair because – guess what – he claims he just happens to be a contractor. He may or may not be, but you should certainly never agree to do business without having your roof checked out by a respectable local contractor. More likely than not, there’ll be nothing wrong with your roof. If there is, get at least two bids before having it fixed. Even if you decide it’s time to get the general condition of your roof checked out and maybe to consider a replacement, again always get multiple bids and ensure you understand your choices and costs.

RVOS Lodge 103 Offers Scholarships

RVOS Lodge 103 is proud to once again offer two $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors. Eligible applicants are those who are:

  • High school seniors who will graduate in the spring of 2014
  • Plan to attend college or a vocational school in the fall of 2014
  • The child or grandchild of a current RVOS Lodge 103 member

This year’s essay subject is Texas history. Essays should be one page, double-spaced, using 10pt Arial font. The applicant’s name and phone number should appear on the page.

Scholarship deadline is May 13, 2014. Instructions and application form may be downloaded here.
2014 Lodge 103 Scholarship Application

How To Play It Safe Up On The Roof

Your roof is one of the most important parts of the structure of your home. If it’s in poor repair, you risk flooding, infestation, and other damage. It can even affect insurance rates. Oftentimes, a visual check from the ground will tell you if it’s in good health, especially in a single-story home, but sometimes a closer inspection is called for. However, getting up on the roof and staying there safely can be a big challenge for many people, particularly those who don’t have a head for heights.

The first safety rule is that if you don’t have that head for heights, if you have a physical disability or are suffering from an injury, or if you’re just plain scared, you probably shouldn’t even think of going up there. Get a professional to do it instead. Most builders and home inspectors will probably do it for you for a relatively modest cost. But if you do make the ascent, here are some simple tips to follow:

  • Avoid going on the roof if the weather has made it slippery or if strong winds are blowing.
  • If there are damaged areas or weak spots, make sure you know in advance, if possible, where they are.
  • Wear good shoes with non-slip soles, a safety helmet and, ideally, safety glasses.
  • Use a ladder that’s right for the job – that is, the right height to allow a good leaning angle, sturdy and in good repair. Position it securely on a level surface so it won’t slip when you climb. Use the “three point rule” – when climbing the ladder always have three limbs in contact with the rungs.
  • Try to have another person with you on the ground, to secure the ladder and to be available to get help in an emergency.
  • Consider using a safety harness that you can anchor to something secure, like a chimney stack, as you move around.
  • Keep your eyes on the area you’re inspecting and the direction you’re heading, testing carefully in front of you before placing your weight down.
  • If you’re undertaking a major job, fasten either a ladder or temporary battens to the roof to give you firmer footing. Wear a tool belt and take all the items you’ll likely need.

Tips For Electrical Outlet Safety

Checking the safety of electrical outlets around your home or those of elderly relatives should be a regular routine, and you can do it in just a few minutes.   (WARNING: If you have to remove or replace any fittings, make sure the power supply is switched off at the fuse box first.)

First if you have young children in the house, make sure that all unused outlets have either a cover or a plastic insert to stop items being poked into the terminal holes.

Your regular inspection should also include checks for cracks and overheating. Look for browning on the plates; it’s a sign of burning or lack of grounding. Check for and replace missing screws.

Ensure too, both that you don’t have too many devices plugged into a single outlet and that you only have one high-wattage device attached to any single one.

If you’re in a new (to you) property, checking on relatives or doing an inspection after you’ve had internal painting done, check that none of the outlet plates has been painted over. Paint can be scraped off once the power has been deactivated.

If you’re not sure of something or not skilled at repairing or replacing, call in a professional electrician. There’s too much at risk.

Inside the Con Artist's Playbook

How would you like to get an insight into a con artist’s mind, so you can see how they try to smooth-talk their way into fooling you? Now you can for free, with a document called The Con Artist’s Playbook. The publication is part of a new campaign called the Fraud Watch Network launched by the AARP. Although the organization represents older folk, this new report and the associated campaign are for everyone.

“We’re inviting anyone, of any age, to access our website and network of resources free of charge,” AARP says.

How can you stay safe? By learning the common strategies criminals use so you can be on guard to protect your money and possessions.

The Con Artist’s Playbook is based on the findings of hundreds of undercover fraud tapes and hours of interviews with both victims and crooks. It shines a spotlight on the tricks that criminals use and gives you the tools to defend yourself.

For example, using just five simple tactics can help you avoid many fraud tricks:

  1.  Don’t use easy passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs). No family names, birth dates, or easily-guessable sequences of letters and numbers.
  2.  Beware of email and text requests for personal or account information that purport to come from your bank or Internet service provider. They probably don’t.
  3.  Call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or visit optoutprescreen.com to stop pre-approved credit card applications that a thief could steal to get credit in your name.
  4.  Never give personal information to telemarketers, and sign up for the Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.
  5.  Double check ID and references of people visiting you for door-to-door sales, home repairs, and other products or offers. Check that they are who they say they are!

How to Join the Campaign and Get Your Playbook
Visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or download the playbook from: http://tinyurl.com/aarp-playbook