How to Detect a Contractor Scam

How to Detect a ScamWe’ve written quite a bit so far about questions to ask prospective contractors that can go a long way to saving you thousands of dollars at the hands of unscrupulous individuals. If you think the worst thing a contractor can do is to rush a job or use cheap labor, think again. It’s a heck of a lot more than that. Check out some of these home improvement “experts” turned fugitives over at the Department of Consumer Affairs.

If you’re anything like us, it’s tough to read through the descriptions of what these truly awful human beings have done to homeowners. These phony contractors prey on the weak, elderly, and basically anyone else they can rip off. So how can you make sure that you’re not the next victim of a contractor scam? Here’s what you need look for.

Warning! Warning!

There are a lot of warning signs to take heed of when selecting a contractor. We agree with many of the tips given by the Washington State Dept. of Labor and Industries. Here are the most critical warning signs of a scam:

  • Every prospective contractor should be able to provide you with recent references. If they give you a reference that can’t be verified, it’s time to move on.
  • One of the oldest tricks in the book is the “We can offer you a special price, but only if you sign today” routine. A professional contractor isn’t going to utilize a high-pressure sales technique like this so beware.
  • Cash only? No thanks. The same holds true for large deposits, paying for the entire cost of a project upfront, and making the check out in the name of the individual, instead of the name of the company.
  • Is a written contract provided? If not, end the conversation right then and there.
  • A major warning sign of a contractor scam is if he asks you to attain the building permit. It is the contractor’s duty to take out all appropriate permits. These permits provide protection and ensure that the project meets all local building codes.
  • Does your contractor want to do a lot or all of the work after-hours and on weekends? That’s a major sign that something just isn’t right.

If it Sounds Too Good to be True, it Probably Is

Our last tip might seem like the most obvious, but it’s also the most important. No matter how “nice” or “polite” a prospective contractor might appear you must be attentive to any proposal that feels too good to be true. Always trust your gut on these matters. If you’re still on the fence about a contractor you’ve spoken with, do a lot of research on this person’s background. Also, don’t be afraid to speak with other contractors to attain a second opinion. And of course, contact the HomeProHub Referral Service today to find a hard working and honorable contractor in your neighborhood.


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