OSWEGO, NY – Spring is here and with that homeowners are anxious to get started with home improvements and to make needed repairs such as, roofing, chimney, driveway sealing, or masonry repairs.
Sheriff Reuel A. Todd said, “Spring is also a time when homeowners should be careful of dishonest home repair companies who could take advantage of them. Spring is a time to be cautious of gimmicks, cheap fixes, and above all, of down payments.”
Sheriff Todd offers some tips on how you can protect yourself from fraudulent home improvement and repair schemes:
Check for warning signs of a scam:
Be leery of offers to do an expensive job for an unusually low price, especially if they ask for a down payment. The offer may be too good to be true. Once you sign the contract, you may learn why: they never deliver the service.
Be suspicious of high-pressure sales tactics.
Shop around. Ask friends, neighbors, or co-workers for references. Always get several estimates for every repair job and compare the prices and terms. Check to see if there is a charge for estimates before asking for one to be done.
Before choosing a firm, ask the firm for references and check them out. When you find people you trust, stick with them.
Check the identification of all “inspectors.”
Call the local Consumer Affairs Office or Better Business Bureau to check the company’s reputation before you authorize any work to be done.
Never pay the entire cost of the project up front. Pay by check, never with cash. Arrange to make payments in installments, one-third at the beginning of the job, one-third when the work is nearly completed, and one-third after the job is done.
The sheriff stresses the importance of reporting any and all suspicions of fraud to the sheriff’s office or to your local police.
“If you’ve been a victim of fraud, police want to know about it. Withholding this information only helps the crooks. That’s just what they hope for,” said the sheriff. “It is just as important to report the fraud to your local district attorney or the New York State Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division. Your information will be useful in not only solving your incident but in preventing others from being scammed as well.”
“If we all take special precautions,” Sheriff Todd concluded, “We can all outsmart the dishonest people.”