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Avoiding Springtime Home-Repair Scams
28 March 2012 - 14:51, by , in news, No comments

Swan-by-Amy-Glover-Bryant-150x150Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wants you to know that when spring blooms, con artists often start knocking, offering to make improvements to homes and property.

“Spring is a prime time for people looking to take advantage of senior citizens, people who live alone and families with weather-related damage to their homes,” McDaniel said. “I want consumers to be on the lookout for unscrupulous people trying to take advantage of them.”

Arkansas consumers have filed numerous complaints with the Attorney General’s office, including instances of fraudulent contractors offering roof repair, asphalt paving, and tree trimming, as well as verbal agreements that later could not be verified.

“The best rule of thumb is that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” McDaniel said. “The best protection against home-repair fraud is to get everything in writing.”

McDaniel cautions that homeowners should never cave to high-pressure tactics, such as contractors who say they’ll give you a better price if you agree to a deal on the spot.

Oftentimes, these con artists travel the region and don’t stay in one area for long. That means it can be difficult to track them down if you’re dissatisfied with their work.

Any contractor, building, repairing, or making improvements to a home costing more than $2,000, is required to be bonded and licensed by the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. Contact the board at www.aclb.arkansas.gov or (501) 372-4661 to verify a contractor’s license, the date it was issued, and whether any complaints have been filed against that contractor. Ask for recommendations from people you trust.

Insist On a Written Contract

Have a written and signed contract before any work begins on your home or property. And make sure the following information is contained in the contract:

  •  Your name. The name, address, and telephone number of the builder or contractor.
  • A complete and detailed description of the work to be done and the materials to be used,  including the grade, quality and quantity.
  • A provision requiring your written approval before any price increases are implemented or before the scope of work is expanded.
  • A statement that explains the builder’s or contractor’s guarantee on the work to be performed.
  • A starting date and, more importantly, a completion date.
  • A complete description of the cost of the job, full disclosure of the payment terms, and the      financing costs, if any.
  • Your signature and the contractor’s signature.

Use Caution in Hiring

  •  Think twice before hiring out-of-town or unknown contractors, especially those soliciting door-to-door.
  •  Question contractors who use terms like “special introductory offer,” “limited-time offer,” or those who offer discounts to use your house as a “model      home.”
  • Do not fall for high-pressure  tactics from contractors who want to discuss the price of the job later.
  •  Beware of those  demanding a full payment before work is finished.

For more information about consumer-related issues, or to file a complaint, visit GotYourBackArkansas.org or call the Consumer Protection Division’s hotline at (800) 482-8982.

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