Home Improvement Scams

June 11, 2008 5:20:18 PM PDT
The most common home improvement scams and how to protect yourself from fraud.MOST COMMON SCAMS
* Asking for money upfront for supplies, but never finishes the job
* Bill at the end is higher than originally agreed upon
* Doesn't provide a written contract
* Doesn't provide warranty or quote a list of materials/brand names to be used
* Telling you that your repair issue is urgent so you won't get other (possibly less expensive) quotes
* Claiming the material you are buying is more expensive than the advertised price because it is custom
* Not getting building permit before work begins
* Demanding final payment before contractor pays suppliers

National Consumer Law Center
202-434-3912

Make sure written and oral agreements are exactly the same so the contractor can't put a lien on your house. Contact number for help: 202-434-3912

TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM BEING SCAMMED:
* Check with the Better Business Bureau or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) before hiring a contractor at 800-611-NARI
* Get references from people in neighborhood who had similar work done with same contractor
* Get a sample contractor contract at the library to make sure all your bases are covered
* Basics needed in contract: work to be done, time-frame, including start and finish dates, present business license and insurance certificate, don't allow P.O. addresses-make sure there is an actual street name, precise payment schedule outlined, don't pay more than 1/3 down, with remaining payments tied to completion of the work, agreement that all subs and suppliers will be paid before your final payment is due-otherwise the subs and suppliers can file a mechanics' lien against your house
* Keep all correspondence in one folder, including emails, contracts, warranties, receipts, etc.
* Make sure company is listed in the phone book
* Your Right of Recision: 3 days to get out of contract
* Try to pay with credit card so you can stop payment if necessary! Check is 2nd best option

Visit www.jenniferlitwin.com for more information


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