Have you ever been called by someone who claims to be a contractor, only to find out that they’re selling you home improvement services? Do they have an eager salesman’s voice and tell you it sounds like your home needs just what they have to offer?
These are all red flags. Read on for five tips on how to spot a scam!
- They ask for money up-front
- Their prices are unreasonable
- They promise unrealistic results or guarantees
- They have “too good to be true” offers
- Someone who doesn’t know the market very well is trying to sell you services you don’t need
Report them to the Better Business Bureau, their state Attorney General’s office, local police and your contractor licensing board. You can also contact your city’s building inspector.
You can make sure that someone you are dealing with is real by doing a Google search for the name of their company or their home improvement services business. Make sure it’s not a fake company or someone who has run into issues in the past.
Make sure you get references and check them out! It is also wise to ask why they are getting a home improvement loan if they have enough money to hire someone.
A scam artist may say that he can add on to your house with a special kind of material that’s stronger than brick or block, saying that if you don’t add on, you’ll be losing money. But this is just not true.
The contractor may say that he offers a special kind of warranty that covers the cost of any damages he might accidentally cause, but this isn’t true either. It’s not illegal to offer a better guarantee than the law requires though, so you can ask to see it. If the contractor asks you to give him a piece of paper with your address on it, do not give it to him.
But if he insists that you need one, get paper and write, “Do not share this information with unauthorized parties,” all over it.
When hiring a contractor, be wary of anyone who calls themselves Mike Shipler or “Mike of the Month”. He is far too common a name in the field and may be just another scam artist trying to take your money. The Federal Trade Commission has a few tips to help you avoid home improvement scams that target consumers.
If a company asks for money before beginning work, be suspicious. You should also watch out for contractors who are unlicensed or who do not have insurance.
A contractor might try to sell you home improvements by claiming that they will add value to your home when they really aren’t worth it. The best way to judge the value of the improvements is to get several quotes from different contractors. The contractor may say that he can put a miracle product on your home to make it last forever.
But the truth is, no such material exists yet. Regardless of what the contractor tells you, the only thing that will save your home from deterioration is maintenance. The best way to make sure your home lasts forever is to maintain it by cleaning and repairing it regularly.
A scam artist may say he is coming to your home to do repairs, but when he gets there, he actually intends to rob you. He might even tell you that he’s bringing an electrician or plumber with him. These people are not licensed and are dangerous.
The contractor might have “extras” on his truck that he claims will make your house look great for less money than other contractors would charge for the same thing. These are never good signs.
If you’re getting a bid on your job and the contractor’s offer is much lower than other estimates, notice how his crew gets out of their truck and quickly begins working. They may have a large hidden department that includes stolen materials, or they might be making a purchase to get you in the door to rob you later. If there are no other offers or bids on your job, be wary of this situation.
Your contractor might make you an offer that seems too good to be true. It might be a special deal or a “one-time only” offer. The truth is, there’s always a catch. No deal is ever really free – even if the company says it is!
You may end up with something you don’t want and miss out on services that you really need. Making sure that your home improvement contractor follows the law will protect you from losing your home if they default on their contract.
Spotting a Home Improvement Scam can be difficult, but it is important to do. Consumers who become victims of scams have reported losses from more than $800 million dollars since 2000.
To avoid being a victim, always get at least three quotes for the job and make sure the contractor is licensed and carries insurance.