The Five Worst Construction Frauds & Tips for Avoiding Them
When warm weather arrives, so do crooked contractors wanting to steal from homeowners. They provide bogus repairs that are not even necessary. In some cases, no work at all is done. These dishonest contractors love the warmer months when hurricanes, tornadoes, hail and severe storms are more common. After such disasters pass, they are happy to swoop in on unsuspecting homeowners who are desperate for quick repairs.
While the majority of contractors out there are honest, it is usually the ones who go from door to door offering help who are untrustworthy. Good contractors do not need to solicit themselves in this manner to find work. People who go knocking on doors usually say they walked by and happened to notice something wrong. They may offer to get the house ready for storm season before any major cells hit. If there was a recent storm, they may simply show up and offer to fix something that is clearly damaged.
When falling victim to these scams, homeowners could lose thousands of dollars. In addition to this, the ensuing headaches from trying to pay even more for real repairs or trying to recover money from a con artist complicate the situation. If a person’s insurance company does not cover fraudulent repairs, compensation may never be gained. The five worst scams these crooks pull off include the following:
Scam Number 1. Poor Work Quality
Con artists often use very cheap materials if they do any repairs. The work is obviously low quality, and homeowners must usually have the repairs redone with their own money.
Scam Number 2. Prepayment
With this type of scam, the contractor asks for a large sum of money upfront. After receiving the funds, the individual disappears or does very little work. In some cases, he or she may ask homeowners to pay for bids.
Scam Number 3. Inflated Damage
In order to increase billable expenses, contractors performing this type of scam may make the holes in roofs larger. They may instead just inflate the bill for work that was not done.
Scam Number 4. Phantom Damage
With this type of scam, the contractor says there is storm damage when there actually is none. However, the dishonest individual damages sidewalls or roofs to create damages and repairs them.
Scam Number 5. Deductible Payment
Some contractors offer to pay the homeowner’s deductible in order to gain business. However, this is always a plot to lure people in for fraudulent work.
How To Avoid Scams
Fortunately, there are several ways to combat these actions. The following tips are simple and easy to remember.
Verify a contractor’s license. Most licensed contractors are not willing to lose their reputation by doing fraudulent work. Such actions could be connected to a licensed contractor for a long time. Check with local and state licensing agencies for proper verification procedures.
Stay away from door-to-door contractors. Good contractors are usually too busy to knock on doors. Only someone who is desperate for money has to go from door to door.
Contact the Better Business Bureau. Search for the contractor on the BBB’s site or call to make an inquiry. Avoid people with a sketchy history. It is also helpful to check Angie’s List.
Demand a contract. Do not sign a contract and leave blank spaces. Make sure the contract specifies what work will be done. The repair schedule and price should also be included.
Work with the insurance agent. Do not let a contractor talk to the insurance company alone. It is much better to work directly with an agent who will survey the damage and decide what repairs are necessary. It is crucial to get the right repairs done by a reputable professional in order to be covered by the insurance company.
Look out for any red flags. Many con artists do not have references or business cards. Their appearance is usually poor. They may also be hesitant to provide an address. If they do provide one, it is usually a post office box instead of a street address. When these individuals’ vehicles are parked within view, they are usually run down. These contractors also cannot produce insurance proof.
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