As we wind down this year’s hot and humid summer, homeowners will begin to plan what needs to be done in and around the home to prepare it for what should be a freezing winter.
Better Business Bureau is warning residents that fall brings a rush of home repair scams and how not to fall into the trap.
Scammers can’t wait for cooler weather because now is the perfect time to scam homeowners into getting their homes repaired.
Protect yourself:Scams and inconvenience are big business in the United States.
They steal thousands of dollars for unnecessary or poor quality work.
This is especially true for the elderly, who might not be able to climb up to the roof or the attic to do the work themselves.
It’s not uncommon for a contractor to show up at your doorstep uninvited. The scammer will often say that he was doing repair work in the neighborhood and realized that your house could have a serious problem.
They will offer to fix your roof, repave your driveway, or do other repairs or renovations for what seems like a great price.
Typical Home Renovation Scams
Door-to-door energy audits / furnace repair
Many scammers offer a “free” energy audit to reduce heating costs, claiming to be a representative of your local utility company. They insist on expensive upgrades for your attic, such as solar blankets or insulation, and may or may not rob your home during the check-up.
Chimney / roof repair
Scammers disguised as chimney sweeps will tell you that your chimney needs to be inspected and then use harsh sales tactics to trick you into making expensive and unfounded repairs. Do not fall into the trap.
Fraudulent gutter cleaners tend to prey on the elderly or those who cannot clean their gutters easily. They will claim to have worked in the neighborhood before and will quote you a very low quote in exchange for poor quality and incomplete work.
Duct cleaning is rarely a necessity, so be careful. Scammers have been known to damage your heating system while cleaning it to get you more money for repairs. They can also create hazards to indoor air.
Cars damaged by flooding:They are about to flood the market. Do you know how to spot one?
How crooks tend to operate
- They show up at your doorstep unexpectedly. So never let someone in your house that you don’t know
- They quickly report a problem that they believe needs to be fixed without much inspection.
- They mention that they have some leftover material from a project they just completed nearby so they can fix it right away.
- They offer extremely low prices to do the repair
- They only accept cash or checks
- They promise an unconditional guarantee on the work.
- They pressure you to start working immediately
How to avoid getting ripped off
- Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website to see the ratings of contractors and if any complaints have been filed against them.
- Insist on seeing references. You should ask detailed questions of past clients, including whether the project was completed on time and whether there were any unforeseen costs.
- Ask for an offer in writing and compare the offers of several contractors before accepting any work.
- Get a written contract before you pay any money and before work begins.
- Illinois law requires contractors to provide a written contract for any project over $ 1,000.
- Read the fine print. A contract should include a detailed description of the work, material costs, start and completion dates, and warranty information.
- Before making final payment, verify that all work has been completed to your satisfaction, that all subcontractors or suppliers have been paid, and that the site has been cleaned up.
Dennis Horton is the director of the Rockford regional office of the Better Business Bureau.