Connecticut BBB Offers Advice on Avoiding Summer Scams

Researching Before Hiring Can Save Money and Prevent Headaches.

Wallingford, CT, June 25, 2008 --( Connecticut Better Business Bureau cautions homeowners who are looking to hire contractors to do their homework first, according to President Paulette Hotton.

“Home improvements are usually big ticket items, and people looking for contractors should invest as much time researching potential service providers as they would for any other expensive purchase,” says Hotton.

There is a wide array of scams associated with some home improvement and service contractors. If you know what questions to ask, you can prevent a home improvement from turning into a nightmare.

Phony contractors from out of state may solicit business door-to-door, offering roofing, painting and asphalt repair services. Unsolicited offers like these can be a red flag. Some scam artists may actually follow through with the job but not do it properly.

Law enforcement officials have been reporting about phony asphalt contractors with trucks and equipment, who did sub-standard work, and then disappeared, leaving homeowners no recourse to have problems corrected.

Says Hotton, “By the time a victim realizes he or she has been conned, the scammers are usually long gone. That is one reason why it is difficult for law enforcement authorities to catch the crooks.”

One of the most common practices involves high pressure sales tactics, and the requirement that a large deposit be paid up front. A scam contractor may offer a homeowner a “special” rate because of materials left over from another job. A good contractor shouldn’t have any materials left over because they know how much raw material is needed for a given project.

According to BBB sources there are a number of ways to avoid becoming a victim. Reputable businesses should provide a license to operate, proof of insurance and a list of references. When you are checking references, your best bet is to examine work that was done four or five years ago to see, for example, if paint is peeling or a resurfaced driveway has developed cracks.

Other tips to avoid becoming the victim of a summertime scam include:

•Check the license plates on a contractor’s truck. Most of the crooks come from out of state.

•Inspect their materials to ensure they are not sub-standard.

•Beware of phony scare tactics. Some scammers may try to convince you your home is unsafe.

•If a contractor shows up at your door uninvited, offering to do work, don’t allow them inside. It is not uncommon for con artists to steal if they are allowed in a potential customer’s house to discuss a home-improvement project.

•All contracts should be written, not verbal.

•Watch the workers to ensure the job is being done to your satisfaction.

•Never make a big down payment on the spot.

•An operating license number on the side of a truck may be expired or fake. Check with local government offices to ensure the proper permits are in place.

•Ask for referrals from friends, family and neighbors and whether there were any problems with the work. Then, visit and pull up a reliability report to see if other people have had problems with a given contractor or company.

•You can always visit to use eQuote, a free BBB Accredited Business estimate service.

Hotton summarizes, “One of the reasons these home improvement scams are so prevalent, is because they work. Ultimately, however, the power is in the hands of the consumer, and that power is knowledge.”

Better Business Bureau CT
Howard Schwartz
203-279-2700 ext. 103