ABC6 News issued a warning on this morning's news to beware of scam artist's posing as home improvement contractors. These supposed "handyman" types are dropping by people's homes, seeking fix-it-up type work, taking deposits from un-suspecting consumers and running off with the money. So not only are the people who are buying into these imposters losing out, but us real deal contractors get a bad rap...again!
Watch to Watch Out For
Many legitimate contractors may actually come by your home, especially when they are working in the neighborhood, simply to introduce themselves or see if you may require their services. The scam artists that we are talking about in this article, have some pretty tell-tale signs that they aren't who they claim to be. There are ways to tell apart the good guys from the bad guys. When someone randomly pulls into your yard soliciting work, there are a few things that should be considered RED FLAGS!
1. Someone pulls up to your home claiming to be a contractor and they are in street clothes and an unlettered vehicle.
2. The alleged "contractor" claims to handle everything, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and painting.
3. They require an immediate deposit, without a contract in place.
4. They are not planning to pull permits for the work in question.
There are some pre-cautionary measures that every homeowner should take whether they are hiring someone who knocks on their door, or someone they call on themselves. In today's world you can never be too careful with you trust in your home, or who you are giving your money to. Here are a few things that you, as a consumer can do, to avoid being scammed in the home improvement process:
1. Ask for referrals - from friends, neighbors, family, or business associates. Good trades people will have a reputation that people will want to talk about and share willingly.
2. Get references - if you are hiring someone you call on yourself. This way you can ask the reference the questions that are important to you.
3. Check Licenses/Certifications - especially for electricians! You want to make sure that the person doing the wiring for your home has been granted by the State of Massachusetts (or whichever state you reside in) to do so.
4. Make sure they are Insured - otherwise your homeowners policy could be compromised if their is a loss.
5. Insist on Permits & Contracts - for any work you have done. All home improvement work requires that a permit be pulled and any time you are giving your money away, especially an up front deposit, you want to make sure that there is a legal contract indicating what the contractor was to do in exchange for they money they received.
And if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times before...
IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!
If a contractor is willing to undercut another contractor for work, there has to be a reason. Perhaps they are not licensed and insured, or they are going to take serious short-cuts to drive costs down. Maybe those short cuts are buying used or junk materials, not pulling permits, or down right shoddy workmanship. Whatever the case may be, there is a reason lurking behind it. Professional companies will be able to provide you with references, insurances, licenses, permits and contracts. They will also charge you a fair price, but one that allows them to stay in business as well.
If you are ever in need of a good home improvement contractor, or contractor of any trade, please feel free to give us a call. We have a great list of references and we are always happy to help. In the meantime, beware of the scam artists, because they could be at your doorstep next...But now, you know what to do to protect yourself!
Kenny Corrao, Owner
Corrao Electric Co., Inc.