The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and it’s the perfect time to tackle some of those home improvement projects that have been on your to-do list since fall. While spring is the perfect time to get your home in tip-top shape (or repair damages left behind by Mother Nature), be on the lookout for fraudsters trying to make a buck at homeowners’ expense.
- A contractor says their company is working in the area and has leftover materials. Homeowners are then offered a discounted price using the extra supplies and work is underway at finger-snapping speed. The deal quickly turns sour when the contractor finds “issues” that need to be addressed that significantly increase the price. If you don’t agree to the repair, the contractors threaten to leave you with a half-finished project.
- Asks for a large amount of money upfront. Some contractors will ask for a large chunk of change up-front (or ask you to sign over your insurance payment), and then never return to work on the project.
How to keep your home improvement projects fraudster-free
- Pass up day-of deals. If a contractor stops by (or calls) with a deal that’s only good for today, tell them you’ll pass. Always take time to do your research by checking out their Better Business Bureau rating.
- Double-check contractors who sought you out. If they found you, chances are they’re looking for someone to take advantage of. Ask for references and search for reviews online to see what others have to say.
- Say, “ID, please.” Silly as it may sound, ask to see identification and credentials from the contractor. You want to make sure your contractor has the right licenses, registration and insurance to complete the work they are offering.
- Go old school and ask for paper(work). While a handshake and verbal agreement may sound like a deal, be sure to get your estimate and contract in writing. While you’re at it, ask for their warrantee or satisfaction policies in writing, too.
If you think you were a victim of a home improvement scam, report it to the Better Business Bureau and alert local law enforcement so they can make others aware.
How Verve can help
If you think your Verve account is at risk because of a home improvement or any other type of scam, call Verve immediately at 800.448.9228. One of our team members can help check your account for purchases you did not make and safeguard your account against fraud.
It’s Verve’s goal—in line with our guiding 7 Cooperative Principles—to provide education, training and information to help our members stay financially fit. Verve is committed to keeping our members educated when it comes to their finances by providing details on financial risks and ways to stay safe. Help your friends and family stay safe against home improvement scams by sharing this blog post.