Construction fraud happens all the time and usually translates into a substantial monetary loss for a homeowner. However, most common scams can be easily avoided.
The majority of construction fraud cases usually occur after a catastrophic event, such as a flood or bad storm where there is a lot of destruction and a scam artist can slip into the area relatively unnoticed to begin preying upon people that are in dire need of help.
They will use many different, clever methods and strategies to manipulate homeowners into giving them money to do work on their home.
Keep in mind, however, that there does not have to be a natural disaster for construction fraud to occur. Anyone can fall victim to a construction scam artist at any time. However, in most cases by following these simple rules, you can avoid becoming a fraud victim whenever it is necessary to use a specialist builder for home improvements or home repairs.
Protect Yourself from Construction Fraud
If someone claiming to be a contractor comes to your house to offer services, get their full name and business license number, along with the physical address and phone number of their business. Then, check with your state’s Contractor Licensing Board to verify the information. Also, check on the contractor’s complaint history, and check their standing with the Better Business Bureau.
If the information checks out and their standing is good, call the business phone number and verify that the contractor or one of the employees of the company came to your home to offer services. Quite often a scam artist will have all of the information regarding a contracting company, but will also give their cell phone number and ask you to use it instead of the main number, “so that you can contact them directly.”
Things to Remember When Hiring a Contractor
Never hire the first person who quotes a price on work needed until you have gotten at least another, if not several other, bids on it. This is the only way to be protected from being overcharged or being told something needs to be done when there is nothing wrong.
Finally, always get a written contract for every job, never pay in cash, and never pay for work in full until it is completed and inspected. If a deposit is required (which should be a reasonable amount, not, for example, half of the entire cost), be sure to write a check using the official company name, not a person’s name.
Remember that your experience with a scam artist is most likely not the first time they have attempted it, and probably will not be the last, unless they are stopped.
If you do fall victim to construction fraud or suspect someone of perpetrating a scam, be sure to report the incident to the local authorities, as well as to the police, to prevent others from suffering the same possible misfortune in the future.