Home repair fraud is an on going threat in anything from the unsolicited sales person to the fly by night repair companies. Fraudsters have gained fame for blatant scams involving roof seal coating, however their are the less blatant attempts effecting just about anything in your home or heating and cooling system.
This is some good general advice when dealing with contractors. If you see any of the following, be very VERY warry and do your home work before you agree to anything:
- Any door to door salesmen that arrive unsolicited at your home
- Solicitations from companies with no physical address, that only have a PO box number, share an address with another company, or is run out of someones home.
- Contractors that won’t or don’t provide a customer reference when you ask for them.
- Persons offering to inspect your home for free without any information regarding what company they work for. When in doubt, never hesitate to call the company prior to admitting someone to your home. A reputable sales person or service tech won’t mind at all.
- Contractors who demand cash payment for a job or ask you to make a check payable to an individual rather then a company.
- Offers from a contractor to drive you to a bank so you can get money to pay for the work! This is scary on so many levels!
If you encounter any of these items, just slow down the process! If your unsure of the company here are some easy ways to check up on them.
A quick spot check is to look in your phone book, ESPECIALLY if you have an older 3-4 year old phone book. If they were not around even that long ago this should be another warning bell.
A better option is to check the BBB’s web , what’s their rating, and are they a member?
The BBB is a non-profit moderator. Membership shows that a company supports this organization and their ideals, plus is something you expect from established companies that have been around enough to see the value this organization can provide. You can also see how long the company has been in existence and number of complaints. (Here’s a link to one of the larger HVAC company BBB pages as an example)
The grading system from the BBB is a HUGE help in sorting things out. However there is a lot of other great information on their site.
Just remember, that start ups won’t have a track record to look at and that size does matter. Even the best companies get complaints, it’s just a question of what percentage of there customers complain and how they respond to what ever complaints they do get that matters.
Finally, if something seems really fishy, do not hesitate to get into contact with the Attorney General’s office.