Living Smart: Protecting yourself against scams
By Angie Hicks
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) It's a four-letter word no homeowner wants to hear: scam.
The more you know, though, the less likely it is that you'll fall victim to one on your next home-improvement project.
Doing due diligence before you hire someone is generally the best protection against unscrupulous operators.
In 2013, we heard tales of shoddy and unfinished work, as well as accounts of contractors who weren't appropriately licensed or took money without starting work that they had promised to do.
Another problem included requiring an excessive payment upfront. Although it's normal for a contractor to ask for up to a third of the total cost before starting, you should be wary if they ask for more. It's best to negotiate a price that you're comfortable with before signing a contract. In some cases, homeowners paid excessive amounts upfront and the contractor never showed up.
Also be wary of scare tactics. This could include a contractor suggesting extra, expensive repairs and suggesting that dire consequences will follow if you don't act immediately. In such cases, get a second opinion from another contractor and be sure to have a detailed written contract in place before starting any work.
The elderly and victims of weather disasters were common scam targets in 2013. These groups tend to be the most frequent targets.
The most common service-category scams in 2013 included HVAC, landscaping, remodeling, roofing and moving.
If you've been targeted
If you've experienced shoddy work or been the victim of unscrupulous practices, consider filing a complaint with the office of the state's attorney general or contractors' board.
If the contractor is bonded, you may be entitled to reimbursement by the issuing agent. In cases where you need additional assistance, consider hiring an attorney to explore your options.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
To comment or ask a question, please click here. Since 1995, Angie Hicks has been dedicated to helping consumers get the real scoop on local service companies and health providers. Inspired by the frustrations her co-founder had trying to find reliable contractors in suburban Columbus, Ohio, she started Angie's List to help homeowners find who they should hire and who they should avoid.
Since 1995, Angie Hicks has been dedicated to helping consumers get the real scoop on local service companies and health providers. Inspired by the frustrations her co-founder had trying to find reliable contractors in suburban Columbus, Ohio, she started Angie's List to help homeowners find who they should hire and who they should avoid.
© 2013, http://www.angieslist.com/ Distributed by MCT Information Services