The Top 10 Mold Scams in Philadelphia and 5 Steps to Protect Yourself

With warmer weather and higher humidity on the way, there’s an increased chance of mold growth in your home or business. And, unfortunately, there’s also an increase in mold removal scams at this time of the year.

Protect yourself, your home and your business! Get to know these top 10 mold scams.

Scam #1: Mold removal contractors who do a site visit and proclaim that you “definitely have mold.”

Why is this a scam technique? Because no one knows if you have a mold problem requiring professional remediation without doing a test.

Scam #2: Contractors who do their own testing.

We’ve written about this so many times in our blog. The problem with contractors who do their own testing is that they will always find mold. And, when it’s time for the clearance test, they’ll always clear themselves.
Protect yourself from this kind of scam! Remember: It’s always best to get independent third party testing.
We recommend this for three reasons.
First, so you know if you have a problem that actually needs remediation.
Second, so that you know at the end of the job a clearance test tells you if you got what you paid for. A lot of times mold damage is clearly evident, so it’s okay to waive the first test. However, the final clearance test provides protection from mold scams and peace of mind that your home or business is safe.
And third, because it’s part of the IICRC recommended standard for mold removal!

Scam #3: Contractors who rely on information from the wrong kind of test.

Because there are many different kinds of tests, you need someone who uses the right kind of test to assess whether you have a problem.
Tape testing, swab testing, and ERMI testing will not give you the information you need to determine if you have a mold problem. And, without the right kind of test at the end of the job you won’t know if the mold problem was cleared.

Scam #4: Contractors who don’t do a site visit before giving you the cost for remediation.

If you get a price over the phone but the contractor hasn’t seen your property, run! You’re in danger of 2 different kinds of mold scams.
First, because the contractor hasn’t identified the water problem causing the mold growth. Second, because without seeing it, the contractor can’t know the full extent of the mold damage. In this case, you’ll be a victim up up-charging and up-selling.

Scam #5: Contractors who don’t give you a detailed written estimate for the work they’ll be doing before they start.

This is another technique to up-charge and up-sell once the mold cleaning begins. There are some cases when unforeseen issues on a property present themselves after a job starts. But a detailed written estimate before you sign the contract outlines what will be done on the basis of professional assessment. The estimate and contract protects both the contractor and the property owner because it clearly states the limitations (i.e., what will and won’t be done) before the work starts.

Scam #6: Contractors who are not certified as mold removal professionals.

Every home improvement contractor in New Jersey is required to have a license. And every home improvement contractor in Pennsylvania is required to be registered with the state.
However, not every contractor with a home improvement license or registration has the knowledge, experience, and training to remove mold safely. Make sure you hire an IICRC certified firm.

Scam #7: Contractors who use bleach to clean and remove mold.

Because we’ve written about this before, please see this post to understand why this is part of many mold removal scams.

Scam #8: Contractors who demand all payment up front.

Be particularly wary of this type of scam. It is normal, customary, and reasonable to pay a deposit or down-payment at the beginning of a mold removal project.
And, it’s normal for a contractor to request a second payment when the work is completed.
But, the final payment should be made only after you have a successful clearance test that tells you that you got what you paid for.

Scam #9: Contractors who underbid, undersell, and bad-mouth other contractors.

In the business of mold remediation, there are always less than honorable folks who are willing to do anything to hurt someone else to get a job.
Just remember: you get what you pay for. The cheapest price is not the best indicator of competent service. Rather, it usually indicates the reverse.

Scam #10: Contractors who use fear tactics to sell you on their services.

Finding mold in your home or business can be scary. But, the fact is, we’re surrounded by mold all the time. There are certain molds, like Stachybotrys chartarum that are always bad. You never want to have this one in your home or business. And, there are other kinds of molds that are bad for the 25% of the population that is mold sensitized. But because we’re surrounded by a variety of molds, both indoors and out, any contractor who tries to increase your anxiety about mold to sell the job is doing you a disservice.

So, how can you protect yourself from these and other mold scams?

The best way to avoid getting scammed by unscrupulous contractors is to ask questions and educate yourself!

Here are 5 steps to take to protect yourself from mold scams:

1. First, always ask if the contractor has mold removal credentials.

Because there are only 3 states in the U.S. that require mold remediation companies to have a license, and because Pennsylvania and New Jersey don’t, you want to know if the contractor is IICRC certified before hiring them.

2. Second, always ask if the contractor does their own testing. If they do, find another contractor.

3. Third, always get an independent indoor air quality professional to test your property both before and after the mold removal project.

If you do have a mold problem significant enough to require professional mold removal, the report will describe the scope of work. The report will guide the remediation activities of the mold damage restoration. And the final test, called a clearance test, will let you know the job was done right!

4. Fourth, once you have that indoor air quality test result, always get a written, detailed estimate describing the mold damage restoration project.

5. And finally, it’s a good idea to get 3 different bids from 3 different contractors.

This way you’ll know the price range for the project. But please understand, if you get an extremely low bid, make sure you compare apples to apples. If a price seems too good to be true, it usually is. The risk of a low bid is that proper attention to detail won’t be followed. Proper attention to detail includes things like creating containment and following proper procedures for removing contaminated materials from the property. These two steps prevent contamination to the rest of the property.

water damage dried professionally with meters that measure the moisture
Where’s the water causing the mold?  Our meters and Infra Red Cameras that track the damage.

And one last thing: Mold can’t grow without water!

So, if the report from indoor air quality professional doesn’t identify the source of water damage, make sure you hire a contractor who will do this before mold remediation activities begin. If the source of the moisture isn’t identified and corrected any mold removal activities will be wasted effort.
Here at PuroClean Emergency Recovery Services, we’ve been helping homeowners and business owners in the Greater Philadelphia region for the last 10 years avoid mold scams by providing education, information, and guidance. We’re an IICRC certified firm that’s built a reputation based on trust.

When you have questions about mold removal, call on our IICRC certified experts to help you answer questions at 877-750-7876.