It’s unfortunate, but as we start to recover from the recent snow and wind storms, the unscrupulous, rip off, fly-by-night contractors remain like vultures swarming around to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners, especially seniors. They charge exorbitant prices knowing that those affected by the storms are still facing problems getting contractors to repair their damages.
Here are a few tips to help you recognize the scammers and protect yourself from them.
If the damages to your home or property aren’t creating a dangerous situation, then take your time and get three estimates.
Either before or after you get your estimates, call the Better Contractors Bureau at 585-338-3600 to check on their reputation. BCB has over 10,000 contractors on file.
Never deal with a contractor going door to door in your neighborhood, especially if you notice that they have an out of town license plate on their vehicle.
Always ask for proof of liability insurance and if there are more than just the owner working on your project. Check to see if they carry worker’s comp insurance.
If tree work is involved, check to see that the insurance covers that specialty item and not just landscape insurance, which costs much less and doesn’t cover high tree work.
If your project requires a permit, check to see if the contractor has obtained it, especially for electrical or plumbing if it is being done.
Don’t select a contractor because of past customer references, even though that’s what is most recommend. They can be just their family relatives, friends or only satisfied customers, as they certainly not going to give you customers they had problems with.
Don’t be high pressured and go by the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true it usually is.”
Never allow children accompanying the contractor who ask to use your bathroom. It is usually a ruse to steal anything they can get their hands on easily, mostly jewelry and other such easily hidden valuables.
Never ever pay in cash or before the job is finished to your satisfaction, and then only by check payable to a company name.
Make sure you have a legitimate contract, not just a proposal, and that it meets all the requirements under Article 36A of the New York State business law, especially your three-day right to cancel.
If the project consists of labor and materials, be sure any warranties and guarantees are plainly explained in writing on the contract. Remember, there is a big difference between a material warranty and a labor guarantee.
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