Home repair fraud is one of the most common ways individuals are scammed.
This type of fraud is especially stressful and troublesome as it often impacts not only your finances, but where you live as well. You may find yourself with an uninhabitable home, unfinished repairs, and just the hassle of having your home held hostage by unscrupulous contractors.
Fortunately, with some due diligence, you can take steps to minimize the chances of falling for home repair fraud. Here are several tips to avoid fraud provided by the Illinois Attorney General:
- Get Estimates in Writing. Do not rely on oral promises that a repair/addition can be made for a certain amount. Contractors oftentimes tell you a low quote to bait you, but once they start doing work they will increase the costs. A written estimate can help prevent this.
- It’s Probably Too Good to be True. If you receive a quote drastically below other quotes and it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Walk away from unrealistic quotes as well as high pressure sales tactics.
- Run a Background Check. You can run a simple background check on the potential contractor by looking them up on the Internet. Make sure you get the contractor’s name and address. You can also ask for references.
- Do Not Sign Contracts You Do Not Understand. Do not sign a contract with blanks or provisions that make no sense. A contract should be written in plain English and you should understand what you are getting into.
- Licensing. Ask your contractor if he has the proper licenses and carries insurance for his workers.
- Don’t Make a Final Payment Until You Are Satisfied. If you pay up front, the contractor may have little incentive to perform the work.
- You Can Change Your Mind. You have three business days to cancel any contract if the sale is made and signed at your home, reports the Illinois Attorney General. The contractor cannot take this right away from you.
If you have a question about home repair fraud, you may want to talk to a consumer protection attorney.
- Home Improvement Contracts (FindLaw)
- Repairing Your Home After a Disaster (FindLaw)
- How to File a Consumer Complaint in Illinois (FindLaw’s Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog)
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7 Tips to Preventing Home Repair Fraud