By MIKE WILLIAMS
Glade Police Chief
For The Vista
During the warmer weather that will be approaching home improvement will be on a lot of residents’ minds. Here are 10 tips that will help you prevent being a victim of contractor fraud.
1: Scare tactics -If a contractor tries to literally “scare up” your business, avoid them.
2: The hasty quote on a big job – When making a bid for your business, legitimate contractors do not scribble on scraps of paper or offer verbal quotes. They provide detailed written quotes.
3: No identification – Legitimate contractors present themselves in a professional manner. They have business cards and an established street address — not a post office box — where they conduct their business. In an industry of many small independents, that street address might also be their home. A resident called me this week and advised he always makes a copy of the contractor’s license which has come in handy for future use.
4: Refusal to provide referrals – Avoid contractors who refuse to provide referrals. Legitimate contractors are happy to name satisfied customers.
5. Pressure tactics – Pressure tactics for an immediate decision are intended to prevent you from shopping around or finding out that the deal is bad before it’s too late.
6. In the neighborhood – This and other “we’re in the neighborhood” lines are a warning. A legitimate contractor does not overbuy materials for a job and expect to unload them on the job site’s neighbor.
7. Up-front payment – Requests for up-front payment before work begins should trigger a warning bell. Many people pay up front for work and then never see the contractor again.
8. Refusal to provide a written guarantee – No matter how sincere the assurance might sound, never accept a verbal guarantee.
9. Under the table deals – Under the table cash deals usually mean that the contractor is not paying taxes, and therefore can cut his or her price. The catch is that you will have no paper record of the work — no receipt and no written guarantee.
10. If a contractor or “company representative” offers to give you a discount or rebate to refer customers or become a “model” home, be cautious. At best, this is a marketing gimmick. At its worst, it’s an outright scam.