How to Spot and Avoid Home Improvement Scams
According to ConsumerAffairs.com, older people are oftentimes preyed upon in home improvement scams. Taking advantage of a senior citizen’s tight budget, a scam artist may try to double-talk a homeowner into expensive, unneeded repairs, then take the money and run. If any work is done on the home, more than likely it isn’t enough to justify the payment, and also the work may be shoddy and leave the house in worse condition than it was. Such scams are not always perpetrated on older homeowners, however. Therefore, it is important to know what signs to look for so you don’t become ensnared in a fraudulent remodeling job.
What to Look For in a Home Improvement Scam
One possible sign of a con-artist contractor is the approach. If a contractor approaches you for home improvement work unbidden, be warned, especially if he or she is aggressive. Don’t let anyone talk you into repairs or additions you feel your home doesn’t need, and do not allow anyone to come off the street into your home for a “free estimate.” This could actually be a way for somebody to case your home for a future robbery. Even if this person claims to have done work in your area you will want to be on guard. Many contractors find work through customer referrals, so if you are in need of home repairs it is best to get referrals from trusted sources like friends and family.
Be mindful, too, of contracts and payment. If a contractor wants cash up front, or is reluctant to agree to certain terms on a contract, that is usually a red flag. If financing is needed and a contractor insists upon your using his or her referral, that could be another sign. It is not uncommon for unscrupulous contractors to receive kickbacks from creditors they bring into a job. If you need financing, go through your own bank or resource.
Does your contractor have a physical address and phone number, or work primarily through a PO box? This could be another sign of dubious intent. You want to be certain the contractor you choose can easily be found, and is properly licensed and insured. You may wish to avoid anyone who refuses to provide such information.
Be aware of anyone and everyone you approach with a possible home improvement job. Take care to explore recommendations of people you trust and examples of work by potential contractors, and know your legalese before committing a signature to any contract. This is the best way to ensure a job well done without any problems.