In many areas of the US, the dawn of spring means an end to the record setting winter conditions experienced. Homeowners are taking advantage of the warmer weather to assess any damage to their property as well as plan necessary repairs. Unfortunately, scam artists posing as contractors or home improvement specialists are taking this as an opportunity to dupe clients.
A scammer will rely on a few different tactics to take advantage of homeowners. Some will try to entice a potential client by offering a discount for signing a contract on the spot, or asking for all or a majority of the cost upfront. The most common scam involves quoting an extremely low offer by failing to include certain services, then adding them in as extra costs as the project goes forward.
The best course of action for protecting yourself against these kinds of scams is to take the following precautions:
Avoid Door-to-Door Solicitors – A reputable contractor often lets his work speak for itself. If you find someone at your door offering home improvement services, he is more then likely fishing for an easy target.
Hire Locally – Scammers like to find victims out of town so they can make an easier escape once the money is in hand. Hiring a local contractor lets you know that should there be any problems with the work, you know where to find them.
Check for Licenses – Before anything is signed, ask to look at proper licenses, proof of insurance, or any other paperwork deemed relevant. Ask to see the original documents, as photocopies can be easily doctored.
Get Everything in Writing – Ask for copies of quotes, contracts, and receipt’s. You will want to keep these in your record in case you feel the numbers don’t add up at the end of the job.
Get References – Ask the contractor for previous clients to call about their services. Any contractor wary to do so, he is more then likely hiding something. Checking the Better Business Bureau for prior complaints or issues will give you a good idea of the kind of contractor you are working with.