Fight Back Against Fraudulent Contractors
Like gnats and mosquitoes, you can count on summertime bringing out another warm-weather pest: fraudulent contractors. Scam artists and unscrupulous repairmen cruise neighborhoods, most often in summer, looking for people to rip off. Don’t become one of their victims!
Close the door on cold calls.
Never, ever hire someone who shows up at your door looking for work. Ask friends, neighbors, and other trustworthy people for recommendations when you need something fixed. You can also look for highly rated repair people on websites like www.angieslist.com, www.homeadvisor.com, and www.kudzu.com.
Space out payments.
Divide the total cost of the job into three or more payments and space them out. Give your contractor the first payment upfront but link the others to finishing specific stages of the project. Don’t release the final payment until all of the work is finished and has passed any required inspections.
Be careful about cash.
Here’s a common scam — someone pulls up in a truck and says he noticed a few shingles had peeled off your roof. He offers to fix them for you, but he’ll need some cash to pick up the supplies. You hand him a few bills, and he leaves to buy materials. Except he never comes back.
Contractors should be willing to purchase materials themselves. If yours balks, offer to meet him at the store, buy what he needs, and have the store deliver the goods to your home on the day of the job.
Just say no to financing.
Don’t let a contractor “help” you arrange financing for your home improvement project. He may claim he knows someone who can get you a low-interest loan, but he may steer you to a friend of his who will sign you up for a high-interest home equity loan. Once his friend pays him a cut, you may never see your contractor again.
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- FC&A Staff Writer