Protect Yourself from Scam Artists
August 29, 2017
Have you been the victim of a scam? We probably should have written this blog three months ago when spring weather started drawing itinerant repairmen and scam artists from other states into Colorado. Spring is one time of year when people show up at your house offering to trim your trees, clean your windows or paint your house who have no intention of doing it right, if at all. This fall, one good hail storm could send roofers out to canvas your neighborhood, so we want you to know the facts!
You may be thinking, “Oh I could spot a scam artist or fraudster a mile away,” but it’s surprising how often they seem to part people from their money. And while new homes tend to need very little in the way of repair and improvements, you never know when you might find yourself at the mercy of a clogged drain, the weather, or want to hire a handyman for seasonal home maintenance.
To avoid becoming a victim, learn these tips from the Colorado Attorney General’s office about when to be suspicious and forceful in your rejection. (By the way, for the sake of brevity and clarity, we’ll use masculine pronouns, even though scammers come in every gender!)
Paying Up Front
If a contractor says he’s done work for neighboring houses and can offer you leftover materials at a discount, ask which houses and for references. If he asks for money up front, gently slam the door in his face. Often when a homeowner pays for the service up front, an unscrupulous contractor will disappear, having done little or none of the promised work.
If a contractor tries to pressure you into making a quick decision, say no. And don’t let a contractor into your home to look around or make assessments. We’ve watched enough cop shows to know that scam artists impersonate handymen so they can scout a location to rob!
Before You Say Yes
- Before you spend any money on home repair, obtain bids from at least three different contractors, even if a contractor comes highly recommended or is referred by someone you know and trust.
- Check with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies and your local government to determine if your contractor is licensed.
- Ask for proof of general liability workman’s comp insurance in the unlikely event that someone gets hurt or injured during repair work on your property. A legitimate contractor will carry copies of his certificate of insurance.
- Also, before you pick a home repair contractor, check the complaint and business history in the Aurora, Colorado, pages of the Better Business Bureau. It’s better to do business with a local contractor – someone you can find again if the work goes awry.
Storm-Chasing Scam Artists
After severe weather, like the epic hail storm in the Denver area recently , scamming storm chasers will appear like rainbows after a thunderstorm, ready to collect money for work, then disappear.
In addition to the above tips, the Better Business Bureau adds these key bits of advice about storm damage.
- Demand that your contractor sign a written contract with a guarantee — spelling out specific details of the work to be performed including: when the work will be started, the quality and type of all materials to be used, and when the work will be completed.
- Never sign a contract with blank lines.
- Insist on making partial payments under the contract as specific work is completed to your satisfaction.
Another thing sketchy contractors will do is inflate their price or agree to pay your deductible.
Watch yourself in this instance: intentionally misrepresenting an estimate to allow for an increase in a carrier payout is insurance fraud. Not to hail on your parade, but it is illegal.
If you believe you have been victimized by a home repair scam or want to report something suspicious, you can file a report here.
Secure in Southshore
The neighborhoods of Southshore make up a safe, close-knit master-planned community where residents know they can count on one another. Tour the brand new models from Richmond American Homes and the latest home designs from Century Communities at The Hills in Southshore! These new homes are available in ranch and two-story designs, and priced from the upper $300s to the $700s.