There seems to have been a resurgence in duct cleaning scams on Facebook.
In recent times, Facebook has become a hotspot for dubious duct cleaning service promotions. Members of local discussion groups, garage sale platforms, and event forums frequently encounter posts promising hefty discounts on HVAC services. What’s alarming is the uniformity in the presentation of these offers. Typically, they’re posted by recent additions to the group.
Nicole Fernell, a dedicated professional with Fresh Air Furnace Cleaners, often interacts with local group members looking for credible duct cleaning advice. She remains vigilant, monitoring for deceptive posts and lending her expertise to the unassuming.
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The modus operandi of these suspicious posts usually includes tantalizing perks, and they frequently bait users with exclusive discounts for quick responders. In a bid to educate her community, Fernell has highlighted these red flags on the Fresh Air Furnace Cleaners page.
An alarming trend, she notes, is the anonymity behind these posts. They rarely, if ever, mention a legitimate business name or contact number. Instead, they often resort to private messaging for further communications.
The tactics employed by these profiles are evolving, often incorporating compelling narratives to garner sympathy and trust. They might emphasize local ownership or hardships faced by a so-called ‘family business.’ Additionally, these profiles frequently label themselves as ‘Self-Employed’ and engage in rapid posting to mimic genuine activity.
When approached, these entities might request advance payments, only to go silent upon receipt. Others might perform shoddy work that barely touches the surface of required cleaning.
Such unsavory tactics have unfortunately cast shadows on genuine duct cleaning enterprises on Facebook. Misinformed group administrators, in a bid to protect their communities, often inadvertently block authentic businesses. Residents, desperate for duct cleaning services, hesitate to reach out due to the growing mistrust in the industry.
“We’ve gone in, multiple times after people say ‘we just got our furnace cleaned but nothing has changed,’ and we go in and just the top of the vent has been cleaned, so they don’t push anything through the ducts or main ductwork, they don’t clean the fan, they don’t clean the filter, nothing. It’s basically just what you see when you look at the vents, the top of it is clean but they don’t do anything on the inside.”
Others have told her that these profiles have requested money upfront, and blocked the customer as soon as the money was sent over.
All this has made Facebook an inhospitable place for genuine duct cleaning businesses, with group admins often banning genuine duct cleaning businesses due to the sheer amount of scam posts they’re having to deal with.
It’s also created a problem for residents who require duct cleaning services but are too scared to reach out because of how prevalent scams are within that industry.
Fernell says the best way to avoid being scammed is to be thorough with your research and to try and connect with the business via phone to get a feel for them.
“Just make sure you do your research. Make sure you’re looking for a business name, a website, reviews. Talk to the business if you can. I know a lot of people these days go through email or messenger, but I think a good conversation is well worth it.
“Whether they show up or not, scam or not, it’s good to know, do they have a social media presence? Do they have a website? Do they have reviews? Do they have the proper equipment? Do they have business licenses to work in your community?”
She’ll also make sure to report the posts to group admins and comment on them to indicate that something may be off in order to save residents who might not be aware of these posts.