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Scam Alert

Avoiding Bedbug Scams

Scam artists charge high prices but fail to exterminate the critters

• Use the Environmental Protection Agency's bedbug Search Tool for information on approved ingredients and eradication companies. Other EPA info on the bugs is available at this Web page.

• Before traveling, visit the Bedbug Registry for user-submitted (but not authenticated) infestation reports at hotels and other places across the United States and Canada.

• For real results — bedbugs are among the most difficult pests to eliminate — you'll want an exterminator with proven experience. The National Pest Management Association's website lets you search for local pros by ZIP code. Ask to see a government-issued license and work only with companies that can document previous experience with the critters.

• You don't want a guy who'll just come in and start spraying. Before any treatment is applied, the technician should produce evidence of infestation. This may mean applying glue traps near baseboards, thoroughly moving and inspecting furniture and, unfortunately, ripping open your mattress or box spring.

• If dogs are used to sniff out bedbugs, ensure it's not a huckster's mutt by asking to see its National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association certification. Reputable canine inspections cost about $350.

• If you go forward with treatment, expect to pay between $200 and $6,000, depending on the extent of infestation.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

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