Be Aware When Someone Tells You’re in Need of Home Repair
How It Works:
Someone knocks on your door or calls you. They say they notice you need a new roof, new windows, or want to provide the latest energy-efficient solar panels. They might find you after a flood, windstorm, or other natural disasters. They pressure you to act quickly, might ask you to pay in cash, or even offer to get you financing.
But here’s what happens next: they run off with your money and never make the repairs. Or they do shoddy repairs that make things worse. Maybe they even put you in a bad financing agreement that puts your house at risk. Or maybe it’s just a ruse to rob you of your valuables.
What You Should Know:
- Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door and offers to fix a problem (you may or may not even have). If possible, talk to them through a partially open or security-chained door, a locked screen door, or a 2-way video doorbell.
- Con artists will try to pressure you into making a decision quickly. Many times, these fraudsters are often not local and roam through areas looking for victims they can prey upon quickly before you, your neighbors, or local law enforcement catch wind of their scams.
- He or she will likely ask you to pay for all or most of the work upfront.
- Don’t let them lure you from your home as a distraction. Working in pairs or groups, while one is at your front door distracting you or even enticing you away from your house to look as supposed repairs, one or more enters from the back in an attempt to quickly steal your valuables.
What You Should Do:
- A safe bet is to avoid working with contractors who contact you without your prior solicitation.
- When you do need to get work done, ask friends, neighbors, and relatives for recommendations.
- Get a written estimate and compare bids before starting any work and ask for proof of insurance.
- Ask the contractor for three references, and be sure to check them.
- Contact your local Better Business Bureau for complaints before you hire a contractor.
- Never pay a thing until you have a written contract in hand that you have closely reviewed.
- If you suspect a con artist has approached you, contact your local police to report the incident.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. To help do so, pass this information on to your friends and family. You may see through these scams, but chances are you know someone who could use a friendly reminder.
The AARP has produced a video to illustrate several of the most common scams and to make it easier for you to share this information with your friends and family, so they too know what to look for to avoid becoming victims.
More resources on Home Repair and many other scams are also available on the Federal Trade Commission’s website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/.
Information shared in this article is provided in part by the Federal Trade Commission and AARP.