Don’t Get Ripped Off: Beware of Paving Scams

Wa-Dept-Lab-and-Indust-logoSunny weather means it’s time to beware of heat stroke, sunburns and paving scams.

When the weather warms up in Washington and around the country, traveling contractors go door to door, offering home and business owners a “good deal” to pave driveways with leftover asphalt from another job. They use high-pressure sales tactics and look legitimate with work crews and business signs on their trucks.

In reality, many operate illegally as unregistered contractors, in defiance of state law.

Once they snare a customer and finish the job, these convincing smooth-talkers often demand double or triple their initial quote. Many consumers later discover the work was shoddy.

Hire only registered contractors

The state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) urges consumers to hire only registered contractors to avoid problems with construction and repairs. L&I registers contractors after confirming they have liability insurance, as well as a business license and bond, which gives consumers some financial recourse in case a project goes awry.

Consumers can verify contractors are registered by going to L&I’s Protect My Home website. (

Protect My Home visitors can also check out a new 30-second video to hear an elderly Washington couple recount how they were victimized by paving scammers in 2014.

Paving scams in Washington

Traveling paving contractors have already struck in the state this year. In May, for instance, an L&I construction compliance inspector cited a paving contractor with three infractions for unregistered contracting in Yakima. The contractor paved driveways for two homes and a church after telling two of the property owners he had a “great deal” on leftover asphalt.

“If a contractor comes knocking at your door, don’t fall for the pitch,” warned Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. “When you need work done, there are plenty of registered contractors in your community who will treat you fairly. Doing your homework before you hire a contractor could save you money and headaches later.”

Hiring a contractor? Hire Smart tips
  • Verify contractors are registered.
  • Get three written bids.
  • Don’t pay in full until the job is done to your satisfaction.
  • Avoid contractors offering a special price for just one day.
  • Beware of contractors who solicit business at your doorstep, instead of you contacting them.
  • Get more tips and check contractor registration on the Protect My Home website (