5 tips to thwart home repair scammers this summer
According to homeadvisor.com, “It’s estimated that anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 scammers make attempts every year on homeowners, some with great success to the detriment of others. In 2011, consumer protection agencies recovered almost $147 million from contractor scams in 22 states.”
So, beware. The improving weather and seasonal desire to spruce up our homes coincide often with the arrival of predatory contractors who make a good living victimizing unwary consumers. These scammers can show up anytime but are especially prominent when a severe storm or natural disaster strikes and causes astronomical damage. No worries, though. We’ve done some research to help protect your wallet, home and put your mind at ease.
Consumerreports.com provides a helpful list of 5 red flags that could indicate that your home repair contractor is a con artist:
- He just happens to be in the area
He knocks on your door and says he can offer you a great deal because he’s working nearby and has leftover material. It’s a ruse.
- The deal is good “today only”
He says you must act immediately to get his special offer. Don’t let him muscle you into making a decision without doing your homework.
- You’re told your safety is at risk
He creates a sense of urgency by saying you may be in danger unless he makes immediate repairs. Contact authorities if you have concerns.
- You have to pay upfront
He demands you pay a substantial amount before work commences. It’s a sign that he’s out to rip you off or that he’s in financial trouble and has no credit to buy supplies.
- He lacks professionalism
He’s hard to reach: He has no address, his vehicle is unmarked, and there’s no info on him at the Better Business Bureau, or anywhere, for that matter.”
How do you help yourself avoid these fraudulent money suckers?
- Take the time to think through what you want. Outline exactly what needs to be done before considering hiring a contractor. knowing what you need will help you know how to budget accordingly.
- Ask for references. If they are a legitimate and credible home repair business, they will most likely have previous clients who new clients can call to ask about their work, professionalism and overall experience.
- Inspect your home carefully beforehand. Take pictures of the areas you need to have worked on. Many scammers come to you with new “problems” that didn’t exist before the job started to jack up the price.
- Pay when the work is done and you are satisfied. Scam artists thrive off of early payoffs and leaving your project incomplete, or worse – not done adequately. When you wait to pay, you help protect yourself from a scammer taking the money and running.
- If they have social media pages, make sure to read through their reviews, comments and review their overall fanbase. Social media has become quite the tool for businesses large and small and utilizing it to help make your decision about a contractor is free and convenient to you.
- Ask about their insurance and coverage in case something goes array. A proper business will have licensing, insurance and ID.
- Check out The Better Business Bureau for more information on how to report a scammer and additional tips on how to avoid home repair scams.
If your budget isn’t quite what you need it to be to get started on your home repair projects, and you’re looking for a little help financing, a LendingPoint loan may be a great option. Even if your credit score is lower than you would like it to be, you might have personal loan options.
LendingPoint is a personal loan provider specializing in NearPrime consumers. Typically, NearPrime consumers are people with credit scores in the 600s. If this is you, we’d love to talk to you about how we might be able to help you meet your financial goals. We offer loans from $2,000 to $25,000, all with fixed payments and simple interest.