Protecting Yourself From Contractor Fraud

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By George DeMare, Vice President Business Development

Home improvements are a common and easy target for fraudsters.

The Better Business Bureau has already recorded 12,894 scams and counting so far this year.

Potential scam artists prey on optimistic homeowners with thousands of dollars at stake. What seems like a great deal, can quickly turn into a disaster.

Protect yourself and loved ones by looking out for these common scams:

Leftover Supplies

Never pay someone who arrives unannounced. A reputable contractor knows how much material they need and does not wander around neighborhoods with leftovers. Someone who tries this trick is hoping you fall for a good deal without checking their credentials. Chances are they will either take your money and run or simply do a bad job.

Disaster Specialists

When hundreds of houses require repairs in a hurry, the best contractors have a long wait. A contractor going door-to-door seems like a blessing, but these scammers prey on people at their most desperate and vulnerable. Beware of storm chasers who descend on areas after major damage and are willing to do work right away for immediate payment.

No Permits Necessary

This should always be a red flag! A contractor who does not want to pull permits is more than likely unlicensed, cutting corners, and does not want authorities taking a close look at their work.

Total Upfront Payment

A reasonable down payment is part of the process. An excessive down payment (one exceeding a third of the total cost) is a sign they may take the money and run.

Decide Right Now!

A home repair or renovation is a serious investment, and qualified contractors do not need to use high-pressure sales tactics. A good contractor understands that you need time to make a decision and the price should not be held hostage for an immediate agreement.

No Formal Contract

ALWAYS put things in writing. A written contract protects both you and the contractor. Make sure the agreement includes a dated schedule of work, payment terms, procedures for change, cost breakdowns, and proof of licensure, bonding and insurance.