Post-Hurricane Sandy Scam Prevention

As hurricane Sandy blows herself out, cities and states along the East coast begin to assess the damage done to many areas that are not accustomed to hurricanes. New York and New Jersey were hit especially hard, and whenever there is a disaster like this, scam artists come crawling out of the woodwork from all over the country. They flock towards disaster because it usually means easy money. These states will be especially vulnerable because disasters of this magnitude rarely if ever impact this area. Before you throw your money away on a fly-by-night contractor, consider these tips in order to prevent another disaster on top of the hurricane damage.

Tips to Prevent Post-Disaster Scams:

  • Slow Down and Take a Deep Breath! Many homeowners rush into repairs and find themselves in the middle of a scam simply because they tried to rush through the process. We know you want to get back to normal, but haste is something scam artists are counting on in order to make a quick buck. Continue reading

Your HVAC Contractor is Not a Plumber!

No homeowner likes having to call in a professional to perform repairs, but when you are forced to employ their services, it is important that you choose the right pro for the job! Many states require contractors to acquire licenses for the various types of work that they claim to perform, and as the consumer hiring their services, making sure your contractor is properly licensed could be the difference between a job well done and a job that needs to be re-done! There are some HVAC contractors out there that advertize plumbing services along with their heating and cooling services. This isn’t a problem if the company is licensed to do both and hires both licensed HVAC professionals and licensed plumbers, but if you don’t ask for proof of a plumbing license, don’t assume that your HVAC contractor is qualified. Continue reading

Suspicious Coupons may be a Scam!

It seems like every time you check the mail there is a new coupon from some heating and cooling company offering their services at a discount rate. Right now the big service that is being pushed is air conditioner maintenance, and if you care about the condition of your air conditioner, odds are you have this service performed every year. The economy has everyone looking for ways to save, so those coupons are going to catch your attention. Illegitimate HVAC companies realize your need to save, and use it to their advantage. Don’t fall for their cheap tricks, and you will put your hard earned money to good use instead of wasting it on an air conditioner maintenance scam.

Low Pricing Red Flags

As you collect your air conditioner maintenance coupons, take a moment to notice the difference between the prices from one company to the next. You will find that some companies offer prices in the 70-90 dollar range, and other will offer the same service for 20-30 dollars. How is this possible? Are the high end companies just looking to make a bigger profit? No, they aren’t, and they are not the scam artists in this situation. Performing a cleaning for 70-90 dollars is the lowest a company would be able to go and still pull a small profit from the service. The companies that offer the extremely low pricing are the ones that should raise red flags in your mind. Continue reading

Look at the Bigger Picture

You come home from work one day to find that the furnace is out. Having never experienced a breakdown before, you aren’t sure who to call. You may flip through the telephone book but everyone you come across will claim to offer “the best service” at the “best prices.” This isn’t a reliable way to choose a contractor, so many people turn to a trusted friend or family member for advice. They recommend someone they have used before and because you trust them, you decide to trust that company. The only problem is that your friend or relative is only one person that has had experience with that company. Sure their job may have gone well, but is that really a good indicator of the company’s track record? Maybe not.

Consumer Review Websites: What You Need to Know!

Countless homeowners find out the hard way that one person’s good experience doesn’t guarantee honest service. Luckily, there is a way to get a better picture of what a company really looks like to the consumer. Through the use of consumer review websites, homeowners have been able to find countless reviews on companies that they are considering for service. However, be careful with these sites as well. The free sites are usually easily manipulated by companies to reflect a better score than they deserve, but review sites that require users to purchase membership are much more secure. Continue reading

Be Careful Signing Contracts!

No homeowner can avoid using professional services in their home at some point. No matter how much of a “do it yourselfer” you may be, there are just some repairs and projects that need expertly skilled, and warranted, hands to complete. These are usually the bigger projects like roof replacement, furnace or air conditioner installation, and remodeling projects. Depending on the situation, you may not think that you have the time to search around for multiple estimates before signing a contract. In an emergency, it is easy to simply sign off on the offer given by the first contractor in site. This is could result in huge losses for your home and for your wallet. So, take this warning to hear, “Be careful signing contracts!”

Deceptive Contracts and the Fine Print

Any contractor that attempts to pressure you into signing a contract on the spot is already telling you that they may be hiding something. They don’t want you to have the chance to look too close at what you are signing because if you did, you may have a few problems with what you find. These types of contractors tend to hide promises within their contracts that they never directly tell you about upfront. Things like requiring payment in full upfront, warranty loopholes, and liability responsibilities. These tricks could leave you with more responsibilities that you bargained for, and leave you owing the contractor more money than you expected. Continue reading