In tough times, scam artists seem to come out of the woodwork, and some of the biggest scams right now are in the home improvement industry. Here are the red flags you need to watch out for, courtesy of Investopedia.com:
- The contractor who’s offering a “one-time special”: It’s rare to find a company that hasn’t ever had a sale before. So, ask for concrete evidence that the quoted price is lower than what they normally charge, like an old catalogue or a dated price list. Don’t be pressured into accepting a deal before you get the chance to do research, get competing bids, and check references before you hire anyone.
- Then, beware of the random contractor who knocks on your door offering a deal to fix a few things he can see from the street, and happens to have all the materials on their truck. Ask where the materials came from and who paid for them. If they’re left over from another job, the previous homeowner probably footed the bill, and the contractor is getting you to pay for them again.
- Beware of financing offers, especially if the contractor recommends a lender they know personally. They could get a kickback for each recommendation. You could even be signing papers to refinance your home, get a high-interest home equity loan - or even worse, transfer your deed to someone else. The fix: Find your own financing.
- Finally, what if a contractor pulls up in an unmarked truck? Don’t invite him inside your home because he could be a potential burglar, or worse. If the truck has out-of-state plates, don't waste your time because they’re probably not licensed in your area. In fact, for all contractors, verify their name, business name, license number, address, and telephone number. Ask for their insurance papers, and make sure that they’re bonded.