Common Homeowner Scams

27 Nov
Shoddy work by contractors

In 2011, the Consumer Complaint Survey Report found that one of the top five fastest growing consumer complaints were home improvement scams.

Being a homeowner is a big responsibility and one thing you can’t afford is to get caught up in a scam. Dishonest contractors, locksmiths, and other scammers are more common than you would imagine, and if you have the bad luck of falling for one of their schemes, the results can be both messy and costly.

In 2011, the Consumer Complaint Survey Report found that one of the top five fastest growing consumer complaints were home improvement scams. The report detailed scams from 38 state and county agencies in 22 states. The officials in those states managed to recover more than $147 million on behalf of wronged consumers.

Shoddy Construction – Shoddy work by contractors is a huge problem for homeowners. Substandard work and contractors who don’t finish a job or even show up to start it are common issues. Experts recommend only paying a deposit when you contract a job. Get a written contract that spells out the details of the job including when payments will be made as well as when the job will be completed.

Do not pay a final installment until work is completed to your satisfaction and it has been inspected.

Home Energy Audits at “No Cost” – Shady dealers have attempted to pressure homeowners to install complete “energy-“efficient” systems in their homes after performing a “Home Energy Audit.” These systems are almost never needed and these companies often claim to be associated with your local utility company.

Call your local utility company directly before agree to a “free” energy audit and see if the company is actually associated with them. If they recommend a complete new system, get a second opinion.

Roofing Contractors – If your area has recently experienced severe weather such as a hailstorm you can be sure that both local and out of state roofers will be contacting you in regards to the damage your roof likely received. They will offer to do a free inspection and if a new roof is necessary they will deal with your homeowners insurer directly. In almost all cases they will find a reason that you need a new roof.

Experts recommend dealing directly with your homeowner’s insurer. Ask them to send out an independent inspector if you are concerned there is something wrong with your roof. Making a claim on your homeowner’s policy for a roof you don’t really need will almost always lead to a rate increase.

Shifty Locksmiths – A number of complaints were received about locksmiths who would show up to the job, take apart the lock and then demand more money to finish the work.

Always use a licensed locksmith and ask for a written estimate before the job starts. If you find yourself in the company of a shady locksmith, ask them to leave and call a licensed one. Complain to the local Better Business Bureau if there is no other recourse.

Home Security Alarms – A common scam involves door-to-door salespeople preying on the elderly, convincing them they need a hugely overpriced security system that comes with a multi-year contract.

Federal law grants the right to cancel a door-to-door purchase of over $25 within three working days. If you are having second thoughts about any purchase you make from a door-to-door salesperson immediately cancel and notify local law enforcement if you feel it might be a scam.

All of these scams can have an affect on your homeowner’s insurance. Shoddy construction work can lead to fires or other devastating events, which eventually leads to higher home insurance rates. Whether you are dealing with a contractor or just need a door unlocked, be sure that you are dealing with a professional.

Do the research, and check references. Anything less could lead to a costly mistake and the possibility of much higher home insurance rates.

Tags: , , ,