Avoid Door-To-Door Contractor Scams, Says The Better Business Bureau

  
     
July 24, 2014

Editor’s Note: We have a victim willing to speak to the media.

This summer, severe weather has been a common theme, leading homeowners to seek assistance when repairing damages from wind, floods or other storms. For this reason, many contractors seek out customers by going door-to-door. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to do careful research when selecting these types of professionals in order to avoid being scammed.

“It’s easy to be persuaded by contractors who go door-to-door. Never make a final decision or payment to anyone on the spot,” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “If someone comes to your home offering to begin work on damage, take their information and tell them that you will follow up if you are interested in using their services.”

Imran Akbari of Chicago was recently a victim of a scam when a contractor demanded money before they finished the job. “These guys went door to door in my neighborhood. The never finished any of the jobs but collected their money because they said they were almost done. Their work is very bad. For my tuck pointing, it looks like they just added more mortar without digging out the old stuff. I paid them before my job was completed and they went right over to my bank. The check did not clear right away. There was no contract and they never finished the work.”

The BBB offers these tips before choosing a contractor:

  • When approached, ask for proof of licensing and bonding.
  • Try to get at least 3-4 quotes from different contractors and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.
  • Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full payment up front.
  • Be cautious with workers who show up at your door offering services such as tree or debris removal and roof repair. These are the most common door-to-door contractor scams.
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.
  • Check out the company first with the BBB at www.bbb.org and deal only with reputable, local contractors.
  • Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done and a time frame. In Illinois, state law requires a written contract with all costs enumerated for home repair or remodeling work over $1,000.
  • Prices are often high in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Buy only the services that are necessary to make your home safe and habitable. Wait at least a few days to hire other contractors because the rates are likely to drop.
  • Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem. Otherwise, pay by check. Never pay in cash.
  • Check that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name and phone number.
  • Be sure that all promises made are put in writing.

For more information on finding businesses you can trust, visit bbb.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization.  It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices.  The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service.  Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.