BBB Logo

Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Southern Arizona
Scam Watch: Seasonal Contractor Scam
July 07, 2010

Tom Sawyer is one the most well known scam artists known to children and adults alike.  His most famous ploy involved painting a wall then convincing others that the act of whitewashing was a pleasurable experience. In trade for the opportunity to paint the wall, the other boys in his neighborhood willingly gave him a slew of random knick-knacks.
Tom Sawyer is not the first scam artist to exist, but he is one of the most glorified. While his tactics and schemes may come off as amusing and innocent, it’s a different story when you become a victim.

With seasonal weather affecting people nationwide, a common, ongoing scam is that of contractors who go door to door offering to perform repairs at discounted rates. Look for the following ploys to avoid paying a price much higher than knick-knacks:

1. Workers claim to have just completed a job nearby and offer to sell you the leftover materials at a discounted rate.

2. Workers offer you a discounted price on roofing, paving or other jobs because they have materials leftover from a job they just performed in your area. You’re given a verbal quote but no written estimate for the job, but once it’s complete, you’re presented with a bill that is thousands of dollars more than the agreed upon price.
3. Workers show up at the property claiming they were driving by and noticed your home was in need of repairs.
4. Workers knock on your door and offer to make repairs following a particularly violent monsoon storm; all they need is for you to pay half or all of the cost for materials up front for them to begin work.

BBB suggests that before letting a stranger perform work for you to follow these tips:
• Look for the business name or logo on the vehicle and ask for a business card or local contact information. Tell the worker to wait outside while you verify the information given.
• Ask the business for their 6 digit Registrar of Contractors (ROC) license number and check with the ROC at 520-628-6345 to ensure it is current; in the state of Arizona a business must have an ROC license if they charge more than $1,000 per job, including the cost of materials.
• Make sure the scope of the project, the price and any other relevant terms are spelled out in a written contract. 
• Never allow a company to quote repairs or costs verbally. Shop around! Ask for written estimates from at least three contractors before making a decision and check with Better Business Bureau for a list of Accredited Businesses you can trust.