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Scammers: How to Stay Ahead of Them 

July 12, 2018

Maintaining your home is no easy task. With everything else going on in your life, it can be difficult to find time for chores such as painting the house or cleaning the gutters. Many people turn to professionals for help. While many specialists are ethical workers, each year dishonest contractors scam U.S. families. Over one third of homeowners cite fraud as their primary concern when hiring a new contractor or maintenance specialist. If you’re planning on getting work done in the near future, here are some tips on how to spot con artists and how to avoid falling for some of the most common contracting scams.

Signs of Fraud: No matter how savvy you might be, it can sometimes be tough to spot a con artist before it’s too late. Keeping up with the latest scams in your area is one of the best ways to recognize fraud when you see it. Here are some common signs that your contractor is pulling a fast one on you: 

Unsolicited Visits: If a handyman comes to your door claiming that he happened to notice your home is in need of repairs, the chances are that it’s a scammer. Most legitimate handymen don’t make “drop-by” calls.

Asking for Upfront Deposits: While a request for cash upfront isn’t always a sign of ill intent, prepaying for services makes it easy for scammers to make off with your money without actually doing any repairs.

Suspicious Discounts and Loans: We all love a deal when it comes to professional services, but contractors who offer financial assistance may not have your best interests in mind. Home improvement loan scams can hit homeowners with high interest rates, kickbacks, fees, and point systems. You should also be wary of any high-pressure “limited time offers.”

Leftover Materials: If your contractor promises to save time and money by using materials from a previous job, it’s a fairly good indication that you may end up paying more for building materials than necessary. You may also unwittingly agree to let you contractor use substandard equipment.

Protecting Yourself: Knowing how to spot a scam is only half the battle. When hiring a professional, you should take steps to ensure that you’re not getting scammed.

Here are some of the best ways that you can avoid falling victim to home improvement fraud:

  • Verify references
  • Get a second opinion from a trusted source
  • Take your time when hiring and don’t give in to high-pressure situations
  • Always be careful before signing any paperwork
  • Make sure that insurance cards are valid and up to date
  • Check with the Better Business Bureaufor ratings and complaints
  • Only make a payment once satisfactory work is completed

While most of us like to think the best of people, the unfortunate truth is that there are unscrupulous businessmen out there. When hiring a new home maintenance specialist, it’s crucial that you do your research to protect yourself financially. By staying cautious and keeping yourself informed, you can avoid falling victim to con artists.

Content provided by guest blogger Jackie Young who is passionate about sharing her knowledge of DIY and home and garden maintenance with the online community.