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Home Upgrade Scams

By Scam Awareness | July 29, 2019

Summer is a popular time to work on home improvements. Experts say the warm season is favorable for tackling roof repairs, outdoor decks, new additions and exterior paint jobs. Summer construction is also a popular time for scam artists to target homeowners. These dishonest repairmen are known for abandoning projects upon payment, producing botched work that further damages people's homes and even propelling some homeowners into debt. 

Shady contractors often target friendly senior citizens, because they usually own a home with equity and have good credit. For scammers, this credit can be used to secure one of their high interest loans that they offer through point-of-sale financing. They might offer a reasonable, senior-discounted rate, then turn around and secure a loan for a greater amount. Claiming the job is more expensive than previously estimated, they pocket the extra cash. Their lousy work leads to additional damage and repairs that may throw the homeowner into so much debt that they can't make their payments, and subsequently fall into foreclosure.

When considering a contractor for home improvements and repairs, be wary if the contractor:Shows up at your front door unannounced-especially after a natural disaster.

  • Asks for payment up front and only accepts cash.
  • Offers a discount with leftover supplies from a previous project.
  • Doesn't have a license, avoids pulling permits and doesn't want to put anything in writing.
  • Pressures you to make a quick decision.

Always research potential contractors. Make sure they have a license (in accordance with your state) and photograph the project at each stage. Stagger payments, so the contractor will see the job through to the end, and use either a check or credit card so the transactions are documented. Report any and all fraud to the FTC.

Stay Safe!

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