During early Spring of each year, legitimate home improvement contractors and businesses ply their trade. But among the honest and legitimate ones, there are persons or groups who seek to defraud innocent victims.
Types of “services” associated with this type of fraud:
- Asphalt paving
- Driveway seal coating
- Gutter repair
- Power washing
- Tree trimming
- Lightning rod repair
- Pest extermination
- Chimney repair
- Roof coating
Here are some possible indicators of a scam:
- Person(s) will solicit services door-to-door
- Person(s) will say they have “left over” materials from an existing job and offer services at a discounted rate
- Person(s) will ask for a large down payment or total payment in CASH prior to beginning a “job”
- Person(s) will use high pressure sales tactics or intimidation towards vulnerable populations (elderly or disabled persons)
- Person(s) will be driving newer, well maintained trucks or SUVs, often bearing out of state license plates
- Persons(s) will often perform shoddy work using incorrect or substandard material and later increase the amount of payment owed
- Persons will simply take the down payment and disappear without performing any work
Tips on avoiding fraud and scams:
- Get bids from at least three contractors. Make sure that the bids are itemized so you know exactly what you’re getting.
- Ask friends, neighbors, and family about contractors they have worked with.
- Find out how long the contractor has been in business.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the state Attorney General’s office to find out if there any complaints about the contractor.
- Obtain and check several references from the contractor’s former customers, preferably those who had similar work done. If possible, inspect the contractor’s work in person.
- Make sure that the contractor carries personal liability, workers’ compensation, and property damage coverage and get copies of insurance certificates to make sure they’re current.
- Make sure that the contractor is responsible for obtaining any permits required for the job and negotiate who pays for permits.