Bed Bug Scams – How to avoid them

Bed Bug ScamBed bugs are getting lots of attention these days.  As infestations are occurring all around the world.   Reports of infestations are increasing at an alarming rate of more than 20% per year!  Unfortunately along with the increase, there is also an increase in bed bug scams, looking to take advantage of people wanting to get rid of their bed bugs.

For centuries, less ethical people in our society have tried to prey on people in need.    Bed bug scammers are no different, and as a result, over the past few years a number of common scams have appeared.  We’ll overview them for you, and provide some tips to help you avoid getting scammed.

Electronic Bed Bug Gizmos

We recommend avoiding any type of electronic, ionic, electromagnetic, or ultrasound gadget or gizmo.  Researchers specializing in bed bugs haven’t seen an evidence that these devices work at all.  In fact, a formal research effort and published paper was done by etominologists Yturralde and Hofstetter that showed these tools do not work at repelling or attracting bed bugs in general.

These inexpensive to manufacture gadgets offer a quick and easy solution to getting rid of bed bugs in your home.  The reality is they don’t, but provide large profits for the manufacturers and sellers.

Avoid “off the shelf” and common insecticide sprays and foggers

Bed bugs are tough to kill, and require specialized and strong products to eradicate.   While grocery store bed bug products do work, they don’t work well enough to even begin making a dent in most bed bug infestations.  Products like Raid and Hotshot work well on ants, bees and other common insects, but are not recommended by us for bed bugs.  They just aren’t effective enough.

Additionally, treating a bed bug infestation generally requires multiple treatment strategies used over a long period of time.  This strategy can include sprays designed to kill bed bugs, but only high quality and safe products should be used.

Foggers should not be used at all, and are not effective against bed bugs.  Foggers tend to push the bugs from one area of your home into another, and only kill a very small percentage of bugs.  Using a bed bug steamer is a far more effective option for treating the bugs you can’t see.

Be careful when hiring a “professional”

While we recommend always trying to treat the problem yourself first using a combination of techniques, do it yourself treatment might not be enough.  When it isn’t, your best bet is to call in the professionals.   But even bed bug professionals are scamming people these days, so you need to be careful.

Here’s a few tips on dealing with exterminators:

  1. Make sure they have prior experience with bed bugs –  Treating bed bugs requires special knowledge and products.  Your average termite or flea specialist just isn’t going to to be able to get the job done.  Be sure the company has previously resolved bed bug infestations.  Ask for references, and call them to be sure.
  2. False positives – Many less ethical “professionals” will tell you that you have bed bugs when you really don’t.  This can also often include bringing in a bed bug sniffing dog and having it falsely indicate (commonly referred to as the bed bug dog scam).  Make the exterminator/investigator show you evidence and make them convince you that you really have a problem.  They should be able to show you the bed bugs themselves, their left over exoskeletons, or their fecal remains.
  3. Free inspections – If a pest control company comes to your door offering free immediate inspections, close the door.   Generally any pest control company that goes door to door offering “free” inspections for bed bugs is trying to scam you.   Most credible companies use more traditional advertising and promotional methods.
  4. Heat treatment scams – Treating bed bugs using heat is one of the most effective methods of killing bed bugs.  BUT, it has to be done correctly, meaning the entire effected area of the home has to be heated to 140 degrees and stay that way for a few hours.   Many scammers are going from home to home with portable space heaters claiming they can solve your bed bug issue.   This type of treatment won’t work, and the scammers just get rich from it.   Companies that can do heat treatment correctly generally have large trucks with very large heaters and blowers in them.
  5. Always get a second opinion – Whenever you get a quote or treatment approach from a pest control company, always get a second opinion to avoid being scammed.  Your changes of being scammed by two different companies at the same time are low, so always bring in at least two different companies, and three if you can.   This will help minimize your changes of being scammed.

Do your homework

The single most important tip when avoiding bed bug scammers is to learn as much as you can about bed bugs and effective bed bug treatment methods.  Scammers take advantage of people’s situations, they know bed bugs are gross and painful.   They use people’s lack of knowledge about bed bugs to their advantage.

Fortunately, here on the Bed Bug Treatment Site, we have tons of information about bed bugs for you, so you can quickly and easily become knowledgable and challenge any potentials scammers that might try to steal your hard earned money.  Here are a few places to start:

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