Scam Alert -- This Home Improvement Deal is Really a Scam

  
     
Summer Contracting Scam Tricks Homeowners
July 31, 2015


Summer is unfortunately the season for home improvement scams and fly-by-night contractors. BBB has received reports of contractors luring victims with a great deal on driveway paving only to stick them with a stiff bill. 

How the Scam Works:

You answer the door, and it's a construction contractor. He says that he's just completed a job down the street, and he has a truck of leftover asphalt. Rather than take a loss on the supplies, he claims that he's offering driveway repaving at a cheap price. He quotes you a rate, and it's far below what the job typically costs. 

This sounds like a great deal, but don't fall for it. Once they start working, these scammers will "find" an issue that causes them to significantly raise the price. If you object, the con artists may threaten to walk away from the job, leaving you with a half-finished driveway. In another version, the scammer accepts an upfront payment and then never returns to complete the job. 

Driveway paving is far from the only version of this scam. Homeowners have also been taken in by similar techniques involving roofing, painting and other scams. 

Protect Yourself from Contractor Scams

Follow these tips when hiring someone to work on your home. 

  • Work with local businesses: Make sure the contractor has appropriate identification that tells you it's a legitimate company. Check out businesses at BBB.org.  
  • Check references: Get references from several past customers. Get both older references (at least a year old) so you can check on the quality of the work and newer references so you can make sure current employees are up to the task.
  • Make sure it's legal: Confirm that any business being considered for hire is licensed and registered to do work in your area. Also, if in doubt, request proof of a current insurance certificate from a contractor's insurance company.
  • Get it in writing: Always be sure to get a written contract with the price, materials and timeline. The more detail, the better.
  • Watch for "red flags": Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, and on-site inspections. 

For More Information

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). For more information on other consumer topics, check out our blog at bbb.org/blog