Springtime brings out a lot of things: budding flowers, singing birds, “For Sale” signs on homes… and scammers looking to make a quick buck off of homeowners seeking repairs.
Arlington police are warning those who own homes to be on the lookout for scammers at this time of year, when so many people are utilizing the warmer weather for put-off construction projects on their homes. According to the Arlington County Police Department, people coming door-to-door offering home repairs or tree trimming may not be trustworthy. These shysters will show up at your door unannounced, often under the pretense that they are “doing work in the area,” or have “leftover materials.” They will usually use pushy sales tactic, pressuring you to make an immediate decision instead of giving you time to think. They won’t be able to provide copies of insurance certification or licensing and are liable to get irritated with you when you ask. They may also accept only cash as payment.
According to the Arlington police, there are a number of steps you should take to safeguard your home and your money before hiring a contractor or handyman. First of all, you should always shop around and get multiple quotes from different sources before choosing one and starting a project. Ask for references, and get in touch with other homeowners who have had work done with that particular business. Be sure to get any estimates in writing. And check with the Consumer Protection Hotline – Handled by the Office of the Attorney General, VA toll free at 800-552-9963 or at 804-786-2042 to find out if there are any outstanding complaints against that contractor.
?If you need help finding a contractor for home improvement, get in touch with your homeowner’s insurance agent. They should be able to give you at least three recommendations that are licensed, bonded, and insured. If you find a contractor on your own or through a referral, ask to see copies of their insurance and check that they are licensed and bonded. Unless the job is an emergency, don’t feel pressured to start right away. If a contractor makes you feel rushed, that is a bad sign.
This one should go without saying, but never make full payment for a job up front. Don’t pay off a project before carefully examining the finished product and making sure it is to your liking and that everything outlined in the contract was completed.
If you fear that you were victimized by home repair fraud, don’t hesitate to call the police.