Home Improvement Fraud/Scams
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office wants to make you aware of the increase of “Home Improvement Fraud/Scams.” Home improvement scams can end up costing homeowners hundreds of dollars due to work never being completed, work done improperly, or work never done at all. Home improvement fraud can be a criminal and/or civil offense.
The victims of home improvement fraud/scams can be anyone, but the elderly are preyed up more often. Elderly victims often have physical or mental limitations. This allows the predator to state work was completed that the victim is unable to inspect. They also prey on hoping that victim will be less knowledgeable and believe the repairs are a necessity. Older victims are also thought to have access to larger amounts of cash on hand. Predators also believe that the elderly are easier to persuade that unnecessary work is needed, and that they are too afraid of repercussions if they call the police.
We would like to give you some tips on what to lookout for and ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
Ways “Home Improvement Fraud/Scams” occur
· You (the consumer) pay for work upfront that is never is started.
· The supplier (contractor) gives false statements that work/repairs are needed when they aren’t.
· The supplier misrepresents themselves and gives false credentials, and/or identification.
· The supplier gives misleading information with the intent of the consumer entering into a contract.
· The supplier will use altered, diluted, or modified materials that will not hold up. This will end up voiding manufactures warranty.
· The supplier wants to inspect the house with no intention of doing repairs on the home, but to gather information inside the home for a possible burglary.
· The supplier gives the consumer a super low quote. Then when work is complete tells the consumer they need a larger amount for completing the job. If the consumer refuses to pay they threaten to call the police on you for theft of services.
Signs of a “Questionable” contractor
· Contractor does not want to enter a written contract.
· Never has credentials (license and/or insurance), or identification available to you.
· Wants payment in full before any work is started.
· Wants cash only, and does not believe in giving receipts.
· The contractor tells you that permits are not needed, or ask you to get the permits in your name.
· Wants to use leftover materials for a special pricing.
· Contractor wants to inspect the home without the homeowner present. This allows the contractor to damage the home and add to the list of repairs needed.
Home improvement fraud/scam “Pick-up” lines
· I was just down the street working on a house and notice you need. . . .
· I heard that there was a bad storm in the area recently. Can I come in and inspect your home.
· I’m in the neighborhood doing door to door promotions.
· I was referred to you by a friend, but can remember their name.
· I have some left over materials and can give you a great deal.
· I would like to use your house as a “demonstration” home. Materials are free and I will only charge labor.
· This specialty price is only good for today. Then urges you to make a decision by telling you repairs are urgent.
· The work/repairs to the home need to be done immediately. If work/repairs are not done soon it will cost you thousands later on.
Most common “Types” of home improvement scams
· Roofing/Chimney work
· Windows/Siding work
· Driveway resurfacing work
You can prevent yourself from being a victim by following these tips. First, do your homework. Don’t agree to have work done just because someone knocked at your door. Get several quotes first. Ask around to family and friends for references on who they have used in the past. There are several websites that offer references for contractors. (Below are a few available websites) When you are choosing a contractor ask for a detailed quote. Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor for their address, phone number, license plate number, and credentials. Lastly, always remember, “If it is too good to be true then IT IS!!”
If you feel that you have been a victim to a home improvement fraud or scam please call Delaware County Sheriff’s Office at 765-747-7885.