CHICAGO, June 4, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With summer quickly approaching, homeowners start finding repairs that need to be made to their homes. Ranging from simple gutter repairs to full on home make overs, scammers have an array of tricks up their sleeves to con consumers into fraudulent business arrangements disguised as home repair plans. That’s why AARP Fraud Watch Network wants consumers of all ages to be aware of some tips distributed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in her “Know Your Consumer Rights” brochure.
“Summer is the time when homeowners seek to repair or revamp their homes and expose themselves to seemingly ‘good deals’ made up by scammers,” said AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo. “Scammers know how to pressure consumers into making spur of the moment decisions that result in loss of money and security to Illinois residents.”
Warning signs of potential scams include:
- Door-to-door salespersons with no local connections offering to do home repair work for less money than is normal.
- Solicitations for repair work from a company that provides only a telephone number or post office box number to contact, especially if the company is out-of-state.
- Contractor who fails to provide customer references when requested.
- Persons offering to inspect your home for free— do not admit anyone into your home unless they can present authentic identification establishing their business status. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call the worker’s employer to verify their identity.
- Contractors demanding cash payment for a job or ask for a check made payable to person other than the owner or company name.
- Offers to drive you to the bank to withdraw funds to pay for the work.
Some scammers are easier to pick out than others, but many still manage to convenience consumers of their authenticity; however, due to the Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act contractors have to present a contract to homeowner’s if repair amounts over $1000. Though all contracts must have the same basic information (like contractor’s contact info, description and cost of work, and provisions on how to terminate the contract) there are still ways for consumers to be taken advantage of when presented with a seemingly “authentic” contract.
- Get all estimates in writing.
- Don’t feel pressured into signing.
- Never sign if the contract has blank spaces or there are sections you don’t understand.
- If taking out a loan to finance the work, don’t sign the contract until your lender approves the loan.
- Remember that you have three business days to cancel your contract if the sale was made at your home.
- If the contractor does business under a name other than the contractor’s real name, the business must be incorporated or registered under the Assumed Business Name Act.
- Check with local and county units of government to determine if permits or inspections are required.
- Determine whether the contractor will guarantee his or her work and products.
- Find out whether the contractor has the proper insurance.
- Know who provides supplies and labor for any work performed on your home. Supplies and subcontractors have a right to file a lien against your property if the general contractor fails to pay them. Request lien waivers to protect yourself and your property.
- Don’t sign a certificate of completion or make final payments until the work is done to your satisfaction.
If you think you are a victim of home repair fraud, don’t hesitate to contact your local police and local attorney general office to report the offender. Taking down the individual’s driver’s license and car information; including car make, model, and color, will help authorities track the individual down.
In 2014, AARP launched the Fraud Watch Network to arm Americans with the tools and resources they need to spot and avoid scams and identity theft. But scammers are still out there, making every attempt possible to cheat consumers out of their hard-earned money. The public can sign up for free to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts and more at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
SOURCE AARP Illinois