Warm Weather Brings Out Scammers

April 07, 2011

Your electric cooperative will never send anyone to your house to ask you if you need work done. And when someone does come for a legitimate reason, you'll see a uniform, a truck with the cooperative's logo on it and valid identification. Springtime is scam season. Don't be surprised if you get telephone calls, uninvited visitors for work and loads of door hangers offering landscaping, roofing, painting and home-repair services. Your best bet: Say not to all of them. If you need work done around your house, visit the website of the state agency responsible for licensing contractors or join a contractor referral network that recommends only contractors who are licensed, insured, bonded and experienced. 

A few other tips:
  • Be wary of contractors with out-of-state license plates or detachable, magnetic company signs on their trucks. These could be "travelers," who follow the warm weather from state to state and hire themselves out as home-improvement contractors. They're almost always unlicensed in your state, and if you discover a problem with their work later, they'll be long gone.
  • Do not pay in cash, and do not pay up front. Instead, work out a payment schedule that allows you to pay in increments as the work is completed.
  • Get bids from three reputable companies before you start. If you get one offer that's way lower than the other two, something is probably amiss.
  • Don't fall for these two lines: "I just finished a job at your neighbor's house and I'll give you a good price if you hire me today because I'm ready in the neighborhood," or "I have leftover materials from a job I just did and I'll sell and install them here for a deep discount because I don't need them."

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