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THE ADVICE PAGE III


AVOIDING SCAMS & RIPS OFFS
Carmen Santora
BCB Executive Director

Warm weather is here and so are the scam artists who prey on homeowners, especially the senior citizens. These rip off scammers usually go door to door offering a variety of home improvements and repairs from roof and chimney repair, gutter cleaning, driveway sealing, tree trimming, etc.

They often say they can do the job at a really low price, as they have left over materials from another job.

Many times, these scam artists are driving trucks with magnetic signs and out-of-state license plates, or operate out of store front offices that they can quickly move out of once they finish their scam or if they think local authorities have knowledge of them.

The Better Contractors Bureau recommends that you do the following to protect yourself against these fly-by-night operators:

Warm Weather Brings Out Home Improvement Scammers

  1. Before you give permission to anyone to do work on your home that you have not actually called and especially before you allow them into your home you should check them out with the Better Contractors Bureau, as to whom the owner of the company is, their address and reputation.
     
  2. Ask for identification (Drivers license) and if they show you an out of state license then tell them that you are not interested. Be firm and do not allow them into your home, as most scam artists work in pairs and while one keeps you busy the other will search your house to steal valuables. Some even work with children and ask if their child can use your bathroom. NEVER FALL FOR THIS APPROACH!!
     
  3. Don't fall for the high-pressure stories like "this offer is only good if you take it now" or "once we leave your street we won't be able to give you such a bargain again".
     
  4. If you have checked the contractor out and do feel confident that they are truly a legitimate, local contractor and want to have them do the job for you then be sure to get everything in writing on a bonafide NYS contract required by law. In the contract it must state along with all the specifications, that you have 72 hours to change your mind and any money given as a down payment or draw must go into an escrow account.
     
  5. Never give a large down payment and never pay in cash no matter what they tell you or what discount they may offer you! Always pay by check, payable to the company name, not an individual!
     
  6. If you have a large project or repair that you feel will be expensive you should get at least 3 estimates from similar size companies, all in writing.
     
  7. Never allow a contractor that you have not called to go up on your roof to check the roof, chimney or gutters, as they sometimes have been known to actually damage those items so that they can show they are in need of replacing or repairing.
     
  8. Make sure the contractor you finally decide on is properly insured with liability insurance and if he has employees on the job show proof of Workman's Comp Insurance.
     
  9. Always try to use a Better Contractor Bureau member, as they are Registered and you will have recourse if they don't do a good job.
     
  10. Lastly, you should always go with the old saying, "you get what you pay for".
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