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Watch Out for Red Flags When Hiring Contractors.
Some of the most common "after-disaster" scams involve auto, home and yard repairs or cleanup. To prevent becoming a victim of a scam, BBB advises watching out for such red flags as high-pressure sales tactics and door-to-door solicitations.
Check out the BBB’s list of Red Flags when hiring a contractor to fix your home or business.
- Door-to-door solicitations: Contractors who attempt to gain business by visiting door-to-door or through “cold calls” may not be with a local, established business, but instead might just be passing through trying to make a quick buck.
- Materials left over from a previous job: Be careful if a contractor shows up at your doorstep offering a cut-rate price on a project because they have left-over materials from a recent job – possibly from a neighbor’s house or the house “down the street.” This is a common ploy of fly-by-night operators or handymen who are based out-of-state and use their pickup trucks as their place of business.
- Obtaining required building permits: If a contractor asks you to get the required building permits, it could be a sign they are not licensed or registered with proper county or state agencies. A competent contractor will obtain all necessary permits before starting work on a project.
- Missing contact information: Be sure to check the contractor’s contact information. At a minimum, require a working phone number and an address and then verify the information with BBB.
- High-pressure sales tactics: Consider it a red flag if a contractor offers a great price on the job provided you sign the contract right then and there. A reputable contractor recognizes that consumers need time to consider all the factors involved when deciding which contractor to hire.
- Upfront or cash-only payment options: Never pay for the entire project upfront. Those who do often find the contractor never returns to start the work.
- Borrowing from a specific lender: Be careful if your contractor suggests you finance a project with a particular lender or through their company. If you do so, do not sign papers in a rush and make sure you read and understand all speculations, particularly the small print. In some cases, consumers signed documents to later find out they had agreed to a home equity loan with a very high interest rate, points and fees. Instead, secure financing on your own by shopping around and comparing loan terms.