Hoosiers who sustained storm damage as a result of this week’s torrential rains are urged to proceed with caution when it comes to making repairs. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office warns home improvement scammers often lurk and prey on situations such as these by conning people into paying for shoddy, overpriced work.
So-called storm chasers travel door-to-door and urge immediate action or tempting discounts. Their goal is to keep the customer from checking the company’s references. Such contractors are often based out-of-state and offer to do work on the spot. Although such offers may be tempting, the attorney general’s office warns they can be risky without research.
They’ve received more than 950 home improvement scam complaints so far this year. The most problems were reported with roof repair, chimney and gutter work.
Consumers are urged to do their research into what they can afford and want done, get multiple price quotes from different contractors and check with the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General’s Office to see if any complaints have been filed.
Before hiring a contractor, make sure he is locally licensed, bonded and insured. A performance bond provides the most direct consumer protection. Check with your local building or code enforcement department for information.
Also ask the contractor for references you can contact directly to determine the quality and timeliness of his or her work. If the contractor came to your door unsolicited, make sure you receive a notice of your ability to cancel the contract within three days for a full refund before signing any contract.
Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. Do not pay more than a third of the total cost as a down payment and make sure that any subsequent payments or “draws” correspond to definite, significant and tangible job progress.
Make sure all required permits are obtained. Your local building department can tell you when they are needed and advise if they have been pulled by the contractor.
Visit home improvement scam for more information. If you believe you’ve been scammed by a home repair contractor, visit IndianaConsumer.com to file a complaint or call 1-800-382-5516.