Five ways to avoid home improvement scams
May 1, 2017
If you want to update your home this season, or if storm damage makes repairs necessary, take steps to protect yourself from home improvement scams. While many contractors do good work, some con artists take money in advance for services they never provide.
To protect yourself:
- Research a company before making any payments. Search for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau. Also, conduct an internet search with the name of the business and words like “reviews” or “complaints.” Be skeptical if you find no information. Some operators change business names regularly to make it harder for consumers to detect their record of shoddy work.
- Get multiple estimates. For a large job, consider contacting at least three different businesses before making a final selection. Keep in mind that the company that gives you the lowest estimate may not necessarily deliver the best results.
- Check your cancellation rights. If a seller does not have a fixed place of business or comes to your door to offer services, you may be entitled to a three-day right to cancel the contract under Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act. Make sure you receive detailed written information about your cancellation rights.
- Make sure verbal promises are put in writing. Get a detailed written contract including any verbal claims the contractor makes and other important details, such as the estimated cost of the work, the expected start and end dates, and the names of the individuals who will perform the services.
- Be wary of requests for large down payments or cash payments. It’s reasonable for a contractor to require a down payment, but be skeptical if you’re asked to make a large down payment (such as half or more of the total cost) before any work begins. If possible, pay in increments as the work is completed. Also be wary if you’re asked to pay in cash, which will be difficult to recover if something goes wrong.