How to Avoid Tree Service Scams

Written by Christine DiMaria
Updated October 4, 2012
front lawn of home
Be cautious of people who go door-to-door offering their services to care for your trees. (Photo by Jessica Anderson)

Don’t get ripped off when hiring a professional tree service to remove trees. Make sure you watch for these scams that occur much too often.

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Companies are always out there that will try to take advantage of people. Scam artists everywhere try to make a quick buck by claiming to offer services they may not do or may not be qualified to do.

These fraudulent companies prey on the unsuspecting. You don't want to be among the people who are fooled by a tree service scam. To avoid being ripped off by a shady tree removal service, watch for the tell-tale signs that a company is trying to scam you.

Check the company's license. Make sure when a company come out for an estimate that you ask to see its license. Far too often, tree removal companies claim to be licensed but aren't. Don't hesitate to contact your state's license board to ensure that the license is not expired.

Check the company's insurance. Some tree removal services don't carry any liability or worker's compensation insurance, or they don't have an adequate amount. This can leave you with a lawsuit on your hands. Follow up with the insurance company to guarantee that the company's insurance is current.

Avoid door-to-door contractors. Door-to-door contractors tend to be frauds. Reputable companies let business come to them through advertisements rather than going door-to-door pedaling service.

Be very wary after a disaster. A hurricane or tornado sweeping through your city can bring out the worst in people, especially when they see the disaster as an opportunity to make some easy money. If you must use a door-to-door service, make sure that the price is reasonable and verify their insurance and licensure.

Take caution if the price is too low. If the price is too low, more than likely the company doesn't have a long history in the field. The company also may lack the proper licensure and insurance, which means that if an accident were to happen, it would fall on your shoulders financially.

Avoid the outrageously expensive. If the tree service is outrageously expensive, avoid them. For instance, no company should charge you $5,500 to remove one tree that can be accessed without the use of special equipment. If you're unsure of how much you should pay, get multiple estimates to determine the average.

Don't pay first. Never pay for tree removal or pruning until the job is complete to your satisfaction. Companies that ask you to pay up front may take your money and never return to complete the job.

Research the company. Reputation is everything in this business. Read reviews and ratings about the company on Angie's List. Ask the company for references so you can verify their reputation.

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