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  • BBB Scam Alert: Home Improvement Scammers Take Money, Don't Complete Work

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    March 30, 2021
     
    BBB® - Tuesday Tips
     
     
     
     
     
    Spring Is Here . . .
    Time For Contractor Scams
    Use caution when hiring a home improvement contractor. Scams abound following major storms, flooding, or other weather events. Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics, up front fees, and fly-by-night businesses. Con artists will take your money and deliver slipshod work… or no work at all. 
    How the Scam Works:
    Home improvement scams can start with a knock on the door, a flyer, or an ad. The contractor may offer a low price or a short time-frame. One common hook is when the scammer claims to be working in your neighborhood on another project and has leftover supplies.
    Once started, a rogue contractor may "find" new issues that significantly raise the price. If you object, they threaten to walk away and leave a half-finished project. Or they may accept your upfront deposit and then never return to do the job. Following a natural disaster, scammers persuade homeowners to sign over their insurance payment.
    Tips to Avoid Contractor Scams: 
    • Watch out for "red flags." Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, handshake deals without a contract, and on-site inspections. Not all “storm chasers” are con artists, but enough are that you should be cautious any time a home contractor contacts you first… especially after a natural disaster.
    • Ask for references and check them out. Bad contractors will be reluctant to share this information and scammers won’t wait for you to do your homework. Get references from past customers, both older references to check on the quality of the work and newer references to make sure current employees are up to the task. Check them out at BBB.org to see what other customers have experienced. And always get a written contract with the price, materials, and timeline. The more detail, the better. 
    • Know the law. Work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance. Confirm that your vendor will get related permits and make sure you know who is responsible for what according to your local laws and that your vendor is ready to comply.
    Additional Information
    Find trusted, vetted home improvement contractors near you and read tips on hiring a home improvement contractor. For more information, check out this BBB tip on storm chasers. And before you hire anybody, read these tips on hiring a contractor.
    If you have been the victim of a phony website scam, help others avoid falling prey to similar scams by reporting your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
     
    Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
     
     
     
     
     
       
    BBB of Northwest Florida
    912 E. Gadsden Street
    Pensacola, FL 32501
    850.429.0026
       
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    Contact:
    Tammy Ward, Communications Director
    tammy@nwfl.bbb.org, (850) 429-0002