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Home Improvement Scams

  • 9 months ago
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According to a recent study, contractor scams are rising as home improvement demand increases.  Plenty of scammers are looking to take advantage of folks, and about one in ten Americans fall victim in some way.  Baby boomers are often targeted because scammers believe older homeowners are wealthier and more trusting.  Here are a few tips to avoid home improvement scams. 

Most Common Complaints

The study identified common complaints that alerted consumers to a possible scam.

  1. The contractor frequently arrived late or missed appointments without a valid reason. 
  2. Additional charges or fees appeared that had not previously been discussed.
  3. The contractor refused to answer questions or was evasive about progress updates.
  4. The contractor failed to complete the job, did poor-quality work, or did not meet the agreed-upon standards.

Red Flags

Here are some red flags to watch out for when dealing with someone claiming to be a professional contractor or handyperson:

  • Pressuring you to make an immediate decision to hire them.
  • No written contract or a vague contract, insisting instead on a “handshake deal.”
  • Asking for full payment upfront.
  • Asking for payment in a form that’s harder to trace or recover—such as cash, prepaid debit cards, or money transfers through a digital payment platform.  
  • Claiming they have construction materials “leftover” from another job to justify giving you a steep price discount.
  • Any contractor asking you to secure permits should be a HUGE red flag. 
  • They try to weasel their way out of pulling permits by saying it can be done after the job or attempting to convince you that no one will notice if you don’t have them.

Tips to Avoid Contractor Scams:

  • Find vetted contractors. Get contractor and handyperson recommendations only from people you know and trust.
  • Ask for references. Scammers will be reluctant to share this information since they’ve likely left a trail of deception behind them.
  • Read online reviews. Do some online digging. Find out what other customers say about the company or individual’s performance and professionalism.
  • Ensure the contractor is licensed and insured. Only hire a contractor who is licensed and bonded.  Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor for proof of insurance.
  • Get everything in writing. Ensure the contract includes contact information and fully outlines the scope and cost of the project.
  • Never pay the whole amount upfront. While a deposit is standard, you should only pay the total once the project is 100% complete to your satisfaction.

If you think you’ve been scammed, report the incident by contacting one (or all) of the following agencies:

Always trust your gut if you think something feels off.  You should be able to communicate your concerns with any contractor openly; if you feel that you can’t, that should be yet another red flag.  

If you are in the market or looking to sell, I am here to help you find your way home!  Email me at krista@bloomrealtytx.com or call me at 830.305-5248.  I am here for you and always happy to help!

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