Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

June 22, 2014

Fred Goldenberg: That time of year — summertime scams

Summer is the time for home repair or remodeling. It’s also a time when con artists prey on homeowners, especially elderly homeowners. If you want work done on your home, you should be looking for the contractor; the contractor shouldn’t be looking for you.

Anyone who knocks on your door offering to do work for you probably isn’t worth hiring. Add that to the fact that many of these so-called contractors ask for money up front, and you’ve got a scam that’s just ripe for the picking. You’ll pay the contractor, and they may never show up to do the work.

Before you pay anyone who uses this type of approach, and especially before you allow any unknown individual into your home, the Better Business Bureau suggests you do the following:

n Obtain the name and address of the company the handyman allegedly represents. If the person does not represent a known business and the circumstances suggest an itinerant contractor or sales representative, ask for references and contact each one.

n Get all details of the offer in writing and carefully review it. Make sure you understand everything in the contract. Any verbal promises should be included in the contract.

n Make sure the salesperson has provided you with the proper “notice of cancellation” form as required under the FTC’s “Three Day Cooling-Off Rule” for contracts signed in the home.

n Verify that the contractor is properly licensed, bonded, and insured.

n Determine how long the company has been in business and call your Better Business Bureau to determine the firm’s customer experience record.

n If you’ve checked references and the company’s reputation, and you decide to hire the company, make the check payable to the company and not to the salesperson or any other individual’s name. Do not pay in cash.

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