As a home-owner, home repair is an inevitable cost that you will come across. Home renovation is an investment but it is also a draining task. With home improvement scams in the mix, the stress from such a project is taken to new heights. According to Consumer protection agents, in 2011, close to $140 million was retrieved from contractor scams across 22 states in the U.S. With approximately 100,000 scammers annually making attempts through these home repairs, it would not be difficult to find yourself in the same situation. The fall-out from these scams can have dire consequences, where you could find yourself both duped by a fraudulent contractor and having to pay for a home improvement project gone wrong. A prime example would be how an elderly woman, in Pennsylvania, paid $10,000 to a contractor, only for them to demolish her house and not return, leaving her with a house she wasn’t even able to live in.
Targets For Home Improvement Scams
Senior citizens seem to be the victims more often than not when it comes to these scams. With seniors reportedly owning a substantial amount of financial assets in the U.S and a majority living in houses 20 years and older, that put them in need of home repairs the most. It is then understandable why the elderly would be targeted by fraudulent contractors more. This is not to say other home-owners cannot be susceptible to these scams. It would be easy for anyone to fall for these schemes. This is why you should make sure that your contractor is a legitimate one.
Although these home-repair scams can occur at any given time, they are most common in cases of disaster. Natural disasters are known to turn people’s lives upside down which can leave them desperate and vulnerable to scammers. Disaster relief scams or storm-chasing contractors target areas where extensive damage has been done. These scammers conveniently show up at your door step and try to convince you that if you hire them, all damage will be repaired in a short period of time. Trusting these fraudulent contractors will result in them disappearing with your money before job completion or leave you with inferior quality work.
How To Avoid Giving Scammers The Tools To Dupe You
Large amounts of money is involved in the home-repair business and it is very difficult to get your money back once it has been stolen. Home repair con-artists often depend on your desperation and your trust. They hope that you will not do research beyond what they have they told you. There are a number of ways to spot home improvement scammers. Scammers are generally:
- Want whole amounts paid upfront or accept cash only
- Put pressure on you to make decisions
- Want to sell you material or equipment from previous jobs
- Refuse to have written contracts
When selecting a new contractor, check the credentials of potential contractors and possibly check trusted websites for feedback on the quality of their work. It is also wise to know your rights as a consumer as it makes it harder for con-artists to take advantage of you.
Home-repair scams are one of the increasing fraudulent schemes affecting U.S. consumers today. It may seem like an exhausting task to investigate your potential contractor so thoroughly but it would, without a doubt, be in your best interest to be cautious and vigilant. When it comes to your hard-earned dollars and your home, being safe is better than being sorry.