COLORADO SPRINGS — Soon many people will be setting their sights on home improvement projects with warmer weather on the horizon. It’s why we want to remind you about phony home repair contractors who are taking advantage of people in our communities every year. News5 has some things to think about as we look to hire people to do this work.
We’re used to scammers and fraudsters hiding behind the veil of a computer screen with emails, texts, or robocalls, but in this case the contractor may look you in the eye and lie to you, or even worse, take your money. This could leave you with unfinished work or without a crew to do the job.
”It’s an area we absolutely need to talk about and we need to be on guard about right? The first line of protection for everyone is going to be themselves and making sure they’re being smart about who they are talking to and who they might be potentially sending money to,” said 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen.
Allen has a background in consumer protection investigations. He’s seen consumers make mistakes year after year when hiring a contractor.
”Make sure you’re not paying somebody up front for work they’re going to do down the road right? That’s the biggest area in which we have people run into trouble, that they’re paying up front and then the work never gets done,” said Allen.
There’s a chance you might encounter a contractor who is going door to door and claims they notice something needs a repair or attention. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser says it’s worth investigating on your own first.
”When you’re in a time when people are a little more afraid or concerned they are more vulnerable because they might be willing to take something without doing their due diligence and then they are subject to scams,” said Weiser.
So here’s some tips from state fraud investigators to help you avoid home repair scams:
- Never allow uninvited contractors to look around or inspect anything
- Say “no” to high pressure tactics forcing you to “act now”.
- Take the time to do some research– including getting bids from at least 3 contractors before you hire one
- When you decide on a contractor, make them sign a written contract that spells out specifics.
”Look into who the person is. Try to find some other contracts that they’ve worked and other people that they’ve served and talk to those people, reference check basically,” said Allen.
These can be tough issues to prosecute, so the more information you can provide on the contractor you’re working with the more it will help investigators.
”If you’ve been subject to some form of misrepresentation from any professional services let us know about it at stopfraudcolorado.gov,” said Weiser.
Consumer protection experts say you should insist on making partial payments to the contractor until work is completed to your satisfaction, subcontractors and suppliers have been paid, and the job site has been cleaned up.
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