The onset of spring brings thoughts of making home improvements and repairs.
“But, watch out for dishonest home repair firms,” warns Oswego County Sheriff Reuel A. Todd.
The sheriff offers some tips on how you can avoid fraudulent home improvement and repair schemes:
- Be leery of offers to do an expensive job for an unusually low price. Once you sign the contract, you 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.
- 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.
“Sometimes you might not know you’ve been cheated until it’s too late,” Todd said. “If you don’t report fraud, you’re only helping the crooks; that’s just what they want.”
The sheriff stresses to report any and all fraud you’ve been a victim of by contacting the sheriff’s office or your local police.
If you’re a victim of fraud, they want to know about it. In addition, contact your local district attorney or the state Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division.
“If we all take special precautions,” Todd concluded, “we can all outsmart the dishonest people.”