For the past five years contractors have ranked No. 1 in consumer inquiries to the Better Business Bureau, often because consumers do not look for the proper credentials when hiring contractor and are left with shoddy, unsatisfactory or incomplete work. A common scam involves fraudulent contractors offering their services to unsuspecting homeowners, usually after a serious weather event, and asking for money to pay for supplies. These scam artists complete part of the project or none of it and then skip town with the money they received. The best way to protect yourself from these popular scams is by remembering the phrases bonded, licensed and insured and requesting evidence that your service provider has these three important credentials.
If a contractor is bonded, it means that you are financially protected if the contractor does not complete the job or it is completed poorly. Insurance covers any liability claims that may arise during a project and you will not be held responsible for any injuries or damages. When contractors claim to be insured, you should ask these two questions about their coverage before hiring or signing anything:
- Does the contractor’s insurance cover their workers should they become injured?
- Does the contractor’s insurance cover you, your family and any visitors to your home if they are injured on the work site?
The contractors that are bonded and insured and are able to provide evidence are the ones you should hire. It means they have invested money and time to make sure they are operating in a legal and ethical way. However, many unethical contractors still carry these credentials so it is important to do some extra research before making a final selection.
BBB suggests that you follow these five tips to ensure that you get a legitimate worker and that the job gets done correctly:
- Check out the BBB Business Reviews at BBB.org.
- Ask for references from friends or neighbors who have had similar work done.
- If possible, talk to past customers of the business to find out what kind of experiences they had.
- Secure three bids if you are getting a big job done, such as getting your roof replaced.
- Finally, make sure everything is in writing, and read the fine print.