With alarming regularity, the media reports home improvement scams occurring in one community after another. You undoubtedly have heard tales of people falling victim to different types of home improvement scams. Each and every day, more and more intelligent people become victims of these types of scams. Here are five key tactics to bear in mind so you do not become prey to a home improvement scammer.
Do Your Due Diligence
The most crucial step to avoid a home improvement scam is to do your due diligence before you hire a contractor. If someone comes to your door with some type of home improvement "deal" that seems too good to be true, often times it is, so never "sign up" on the spot.
The due diligence that must occur before hiring the services of any home improvement contractor must include:
- obtaining and contacting a contractor’s references
- verification of licensing, insurance, and bonding
- check their rating with the Better Business Bureau
Another part of due diligence should also include obtaining references from family, friends, and/or colleagues who've engaged the services of these type of contractors. Odds are that you have people in your circle who have also hired contractors within the same trade that can give you direct feedback of their work.
Research the Ins and Outs of a Specific Home Improvement Project
Another important step that you need to take to protect yourself from a home improvement scam is to research the project you want to undertake. Although you may not have the skillset or desire to do a home improvement project yourself, by educating yourself on a specific project, puts yourself in a better position of understanding if a prospective contractor is scamming you.
Beware of Door-to-Door Solicitations
As noted above, there are instances in which a so-called “home improvement contractor” seeks business by going door-to-door. Generally speaking, a good contractor will be so busy they do not have the time to go door-to-door to gain business. There is always an exception to the rule, especially in the aftermath of an event like a severe storm. Contractors claiming to be roof contractors may work your neighborhood seeking employment. In these types of situations, utilize your neighbors and get research every single contractor or company that knocks on your door.
Pay Close Attention to Payment Arrangements
Another sign that a home improvement contractor may not be on the up-and-up, is when full payment is requested or required. Experienced, reliable, and reputable home improvement contractors typically do not require this payment type. Reputable contractors will set up a payment plan and only request money when specific tasks or milestones have been completed.
Jessica Kane writes for Advance Online, a leading provider of web-based OSHA. DOT. and HAZWOPER training.