Home improvement scams are on the rise. Unfortunately, they are not confined to a particular season. However, the months that bring warmer weather are the most common times fraudsters make their attempts. There are also many honest contractors out there who are out of work. To distinguish which ones are operating scams, watch for some specific phrases.
“I was just in the neighborhood.” Any encounter that starts with this phrase may be a scam. If this is the case, the handyman’s clothing will usually indicate he is ready to work immediately. In a friendly manner, he will usually explain that he noticed a problem with the driveway, roof, chimney or windows. He may have a partner with him. If there is a vehicle parked outside, check the license plates. Many scam artists have out-of-state plates. They usually do nothing more than collect payment, coat the roof with motor oil and leave. There is also another form of scam connected to this phrase. When two men show up and one tries to distract the homeowner, the other will enter the home and burglarize it. An honest local contractor knows to simply ask if there is any work that needs to be done.
“I will need a large cash deposit or the total payment upfront.” An honest contractor will have the necessary credit lines to obtain materials, which means he will collect payment when the job is done. In addition to this, an honest contractor will show visible and tangible proof of improvements and costs. However, extremely large jobs may require a deposit. A deposit should never be more than 35 percent of the project’s total cost. Fraudsters always take the money for a job upfront, perform shoddy work and vanish.
“Do not worry about financing. I can help you get it.” No door-to-door contractor owns a bank, so refuse any financing offers. Many scam artists show up with convenient paperwork that looks official. However, if a homeowner signs the papers, he or she may be stuck with high interest rates, outrageous fees and costs that are more than the project’s value. A few homeowners have also gone through the nightmare of actually signing their home over to such scam artists.
“Please check my references.” Everyone wants to hear a contractor say these words. However, fraudsters only offer the names and numbers of their friends who are part of their scam. An honest contractor will have the names and phone numbers of local individuals who are willing to show off the contractor’s good work. Another way to sift out the fraudsters is to check the state’s contractor licensing board and the local courthouse. Ask about any past lawsuits against the contractor. Try local hardware stores and lumber yards. If nobody has heard of the individual, avoid doing business with him.
“This is a very special limited-time offer.” Summertime scam artists use this line, and they pretend to be representatives from home improvement companies. While some may actually work for these companies, a special offer should be valid for several weeks instead of that exact day only. Every reputable business knows that consumers want to check references and shop around, and they respect individuals’ rights to choose.
“I happen to have some leftover supplies from another job.” Good contractors do not use this as a selling point. This claim should always be associated with someone who is inexperienced with supply calculations or someone who is probably running a scam. These supplies may follow the fraudster everywhere and never be used. He may also claim the supplies will spoil if they are not used soon. Always avoid doing business with anyone offering free leftover supplies. Check back at QOOQe for more articles.