Duct Cleaning Scams are very common on Facebook, and are probably the most common type of service scam you’ll find there. They are usually posted inside of Group Pages, where they are more visible and Facebook does less monitoring.
Warning Signs of a Duct Cleaning Scam
You should suspect a scam when you see:
- A poster doesn’t state a business name, website address or phone number.
- The FB account of the poster has newly joined the group and shows little to no activity on their profile. The poster has blurry profile pictures and/or no friend connections local to you.
- A poster does offer a business name and website, but insists you text/call a number that is different than shown on their site.
- A vague discount is promised, with no explicit pricing, or a flat fee is offered for cleaning unlimited ducts and vents.
- The provided phone number turns up no Google results or shows an area code from a faraway region.
- They won’t give their licensing or NADCA info on demand.
- The poster has Liked their own post, or has a Locked Facebook Profile.
- They misspell “duct”, with an apostrophe or substitution (to dodge word filters).
A legitimate company is going to state their contact info clearly and readily. Real businesses want to make it easy for you to contact them through various means (phone, email, website), so it should be a red flag to you if you’re having trouble getting that info. And real duct cleaning outfits will not dodge questions about their business or NADCA licensing.
I haven’t experienced the end-game of duct cleaning scams myself. But I have messaged them and tried to figure out their angle. Sometimes they lie and claim they work for companies that know nothing about them. Other times, they’re just evasive and ignore questions about their identity. They push to schedule an appointment for service with me, only to cancel and block me as soon as I reveal that the service address is for my local police station. Fancy that.
Once you absorb what’s presented in those videos, take a step back, and appreciate the fishiness. My take is that Facebook is the communication tool of choice for a crime referral network. Facebook users from Pakistan (hiding behind Western-sounding names, using throwaway sock puppet accounts) are helping shady contractors connect to potential victims all over the USA! These unlicensed mystery workers will come to your home with duct cleaning equipment, but they may not perform honest service. Chances are they will lie, cheat and steal from you, and then disappear without a trace.
Dos and Don’ts
If you see a duct cleaning scam, don’t waste your time contacting the poster. Don’t give them any personal info, because they could share it with other scammers. And don’t let questionable people into your home! The most you can do is report the post to the admins of the FB Group as a scam. And if you’re an admin of such a FB group, you’ll want to remove the post ASAP to protect your group members. Track down and block the scammer’s account from your group, too!
You can try to report things to Facebook, as well. But they aren’t too responsive. Since the actual crime is occurring off-platform, Facebook moderators don’t see anything actionable. I’ve reported countless duct cleaning scams, to no avail. It’s pretty much up to us to keep alert and look out for each other.