Watch Out for Air Duct Cleaning Scams on Facebook

ByAllen Czermak


When my secretary buzzed me to take the call, I realized that it was not going to be a typical day in the life of my carefully run business of NJ Air Quality. “Hey, where are you guys?” screamed a distraught woman into my ear. “You were supposed to be here hours ago, and no one has shown up to clean my air conditioning system. What kind of company is this?”.  After a few moments I discerned that she was calling from Atlantic City. “Ma’am,” I tried answering in my nicest and calmest voice. “We do not service Atlantic City. How did you get this number?” I asked in confusion.

It turns out that she found our company on Facebook on a page named, Ben Robert in a Facebook Group called Buy & Sell – South Jersey & Philadelphia. There was a listing of scam prices and services and on the bottom was my exact email address. This woman had googled our name and found our phone number on our website to call and scold us for not coming to a job that we never took. The original number given by the bogus person was not answering.  How did this happen? A fictional person listed services so appealing in pricing that an innocent older woman could not turn it down. Most of us know that if it sounds too good, be suspicious. Read how good his come-on sounded.


  • To Clean All the Ducts in Your Home No Matter How Many
  • Unlimited Vent Cleaning No Matter How Many You Got
  • All the Main Lines & Return Vents
  • Natural Disinfectant Sanitizer Sprayed into The Main Line of Your Duct System During Cleaning
  • Sanitizer Safe Around Children & Pets
  • Free Inspection of Furnace & AC
  • Before & After Pictures of Your Duct System
  • No Payment till The Job Is Done
  • All for The Price Of $199 Including Tax!

Some of you might claim that I got free advertisement. However, a no show by an employee could be a big stain on a company’s record plus a negative rating on the website. I know a top dermatologist who got one negative rating and it took years for all his other patients to contribute their five-star ratings to get his rating up to par again.

I have not yet figured out how to deal with this scam. One thing I must tell you, as potential customers is to be wary of anything on social media as being automatically truthful. It could be someone who wants to be your friend on Facebook or a duct and vent cleaning scam.

A reputable duct and vent cleaning service would first come to your home, or office to see what the job entails before giving an estimate. A savvy consumer would have noticed right away that the prices and descriptions in the ad were not feasible. However, as many have seen online and in senior citizens magazines such as AARP, many seniors have been scammed for thousands of dollars from their savings. Personally, two of my older relatives have been scammed in the last couple of years. Since these terrible incidents happened to two of my uncles, I do not answer the phone without recognizing the number or else wait for the answering machine to go on. Very often, as I am sure the reader would agree, these are telemarketer calls or even worse actual scammers. My uncle, Louis received a call several years ago from his grandson (or so he believed) asking him to wire him money immediately or he would be arrested. My over ninety-year-old uncle immediately went to his bank and did as he was told. This uncle is a very smart man who went through the Holocaust surviving concentration camp torture. However, the person on the phone sounded so much like his grandson that when the person called Louis grandpa, his heart melted on the spot.

My second uncle received a call from a person he assumed was his son in law. A similar scenario took place. His son in law claimed he was in a bad traffic accident and was in danger of being arrested. He did not want his wife to know about it, so he was calling his father in law. Could his father in law please send the money in a cardboard carton to a certain address? Believing they were keeping their daughter’s marriage intact, and as if under a magic spell, my aunt and uncle went to the bank and withdrew twenty- five thousand dollars from their hard-earned savings.  When they were called a second time for more money, they realized that the scammer was using their son in law’s proper name and these people called him by a nickname. They called the police who dutifully came to their home giving them the sad news that this happened every day and there was little to no chance that they would get back their money, and regrettably they never did.

Let us get back to the original scam in which an estimate for duct and vent cleaning was given at a ridiculously low price. At our company, NJ Air Quality Duct Cleaning, we personally come to your home or office building and check the vents, ducts, and everything else relative to our service and give each potential customer an individual estimate. We are prompt and reliable as far as showing up for an estimate or a job. Fortunately, the scammer who used our exact name and email address did not end up showing up to the job. These scammers come to your place of business or home and check it out exhaustively. What could be a better way of getting intimate knowledge of your home than to check out your air conditioning vent and duct systems? No potential customer will ask why the estimator is going through closets, attics, basements, and every single room in the house. Isn’t that what a conscientious air duct cleaning company would do?

The next step to this crime is when you make up with the scammer an appointment for the job. He will ask about your schedule. When do you go to work and return home? You may even let on that you are going on vacation for a certain amount of days. I have even heard of innocent and naive people giving their combination for their lock and code for their burglar alarm. This is a robbery given to the scammer on a silver platter.

How can an educated consumer know that the air quality and duct cleaning company that they are contacting is legitimate? Our company does not at any time advertise on Facebook. If you see any advertisement for a large company such as ours on Facebook be cautious. We have a toll-free number unlike the scammer who tried using our company name to gain access to an innocent person’s abode. Luckily for the victim in our story, the scammer got cold feet and did not show up.

According to U.S.A.gov, criminals will use fake websites, emails, and other internet scams to gain access to your personal information to steal your identity. The use of fake text messages and fake emails is called phishing or spoofing. Scams such as the one above should be reported to the state consumer protection office and if you lost money to the police as well. Government agencies track scam patterns from reports by private citizens.

A reputable air duct cleaning company will be listed with NADCA, (the HVAC Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Association) also known as the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). This not for profit organization was established in 1989 to set the standards for the cleaning of HVAC systems. To be a member, there are certain ethical and quality control criteria that must be met. The members include air system cleaning specialists, mold remediators, and HVAC inspectors. This association is a great asset for the consumer to become educated when seeking the services of air duct and vent cleaning specialists. Their purpose is to assure the consumer that their members are using only acceptable standards and methods of air duct and vent cleaning as per the mission of NADCA.

When an advertisement seems too good to be true, it is not true. Getting involved in an illegal business scam can not only cost you the loss of your property in a major burglary but the loss of your identity as well. Always verify the legitimacy of the business you are thinking of hiring on Google and see if the person who you are calling matches the phone number on the website. Reach out to the google verified listing and do not trust a Facebook messaging portal. Be extra guarded when looking for someone to clean your air conditioning ducts. By using the tools given here let us hope that you will have your ducts cleaned and your air quality vastly improved by a reputable company that can be verified by the methods we illustrated above. There is nothing as comforting as knowing that the air quality in your home or office is safe and sanitary especially in the year 2020 with the COVID-19 virus still haunting us.

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