How to Protect Yourself from Home Improvement Scams

Wherever there is an opportunity to make money, there will be people out there trying to scam you. During this tough economy when more and more people are doing improvements and repairs to their homes, the amount of scams has increased exponentially. Many homeowners are particularly vulnerable to scams because stheir knowledge of home improvement is limited. Your best weapon against falling victim to a home improvement scam is knowledge. Here are some common scams to be on the lookout for when debating home improvement options.

Many of these home repair scam artists chase natural disasters and take advantage of people when they are at their lowest. These scammers will often tell you that the special is one day only and you have to jump on the opportunity immediately. A lot of times they will tell you they have materials left over from another job and offer their services at a “discounted” rate but require payment up front. These contractors will show up to begin the work most of the time but will often not finish the job. If they do finish, most times it is subpar. The best way to avoid these scams is to work only with licensed contractors. Contractors who are licensed should never have to go door to door to get work. Verify the contractor’s information before giving them any money. Any genuine contractor will be happy to provide this information and will be willing to wait for you to make a decision.

One of the biggest scams in home improvement is careless, substandard work. Scam artists will offer you products or services that will only last a few months, or even less. A popular scam is an offer to seal your driveway. While driveway sealant is a trustworthy home repair, some sketchy companies looking to take advantage of a customer will use a cheap product that wears off in a couple months. Chimney repair is another common scam. Some chimney sweep companies will come out to clean your chimney, then tell you that your chimney is in need of repair. Get a second opinion before signing on the dotted line. Another quick money maker for scam artists is duct cleaning. They offer this job at a low price and bring in a vacuum cleaner to get the job done. In reality, your ducts should never need to be cleaned.

All of this information can be very overwhelming and can make you feel like you can’t trust a single contractor that is out there. There are plenty of reputable contractors out there that do quality work and aren’t out to rip you off. All you need is to be on your toes and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your contractor. There are ways to spot a scam and prevent yourself from becoming a victim. The most obvious sign of a scam is if you cannot verify the phone number or address of the so-called contractor. Other signs of a scam can include pressure to sign a contract immediately, and if you don’t sign today, the price will not be available. If the contractor cannot provide you with a license, asks for the entire payment up front or cannot answer your questions satisfactorily and with confidence, it is most likely a scam. Any contractor worth your time and money will be more than happy to let you get a second opinion, another estimate and will answer all of your questions in detail. Stay alert and informed and you can be sure to have quality work done on your home.

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