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What you need to know about the curb-painting scam

What you need to know about the curb-painting scam
Posted at 10:05 AM, Sep 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-28 10:42:16-04

Police are reminding people in communities all across the country not to fall for a common scam happening at the end of the driveway.

The curb-painting scam involves people you didn’t hire showing up, painting your house number on the curb and then demanding payment.

Sometimes, the painters say they were hired by the city, pressuring the homeowner to pay up.

People have reported finding a bill in a mailbox, or being asked for payment in person, sometimes without being given a specific cost.

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No Obligation To Pay

One police chief in Ohio went on his local news station to explain the curb-painting scam, which he said becomes a problem when the service isn’t requested and when the painter doesn’t have a permit or a prior agreement with the homeowner to begin painting.

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“We are here to make sure people know they have no obligation to pay for this,” Chief John Gielin told News 5 Cleveland.

In Michigan, the East Lansing Police Department shared a similar warning. They told homeowners the Department of Public Works didn’t hire anyone to paint curbs, so if yours gets painted you don’t have to pay anyone demanding money.

And the curb-painting issue has been going on for years.

“I wasn’t putting anything outside … my money, my check, nothing,” Georgia resident Judith Shriner told the Gwinnett Daily Post in 2012 when her neighborhood got canvassed with pushy curb-painting flyers.

In that neighborhood, residents were pressured into putting money on the front door, which is obviously not safe, anyway.

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Curb Painting As a Profitable Gig

Despite the scare, curb painting isn’t always a scam. Like Chief Gielin said, the problem around curb painting is when it’s a service that wasn’t requested. (Steve Gillman at The Penny Hoarder has even writtten about this as a profitable side gig.)

Just make sure you get any needed permits before you open for business — and that you talk to the homeowner or landlord first, before you start painting.

So remember: If someone approaches you and ask for money because they already painted your house numbers on the curb, politely close the door. If they ask you first and you reach an agreement on a fair price, that’s a different story.

MORE: How to avoid a sports or concert ticket scam

This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.