Storm season is here, and that means something else has arrived: home repair scams.
A member of the Lyndhurst community Facebook page recently posted that police had been called on two people going door-to-door saying they noticed roof damage and claiming they could give the homeowner a new roof and pay their insurance deductible.
Such a scam is an all-too-common occurrence, especially after a storm blows through.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost says home improvement scams are one of the most common ones that target senior citizens.
The AARP warns that shady contractors have been known to seek out seniors in the hopes of finding someone with memory or cognitive issues that they can con into paying for work more than once.
Fraudulent contractors often travel door-to-door, saying they have supplies left over from another job in the neighborhood. They offer to address an often non-existent problem and once they are paid, disappear or do an incomplete or poor job.
Tips to Avoid Home Repair Scams
To help protect your elderly loved ones from falling victim to a home improvement scam, here are some tips to share with them.
Research the Contractor
To protect yourself from such scam artists, Yost’s office suggests you always research any contractor to make sure they are reputable before signing anything.
Don’t Rush Into Any Project
Also, don’t be in a rush to agree to any work, especially if the contractor is pressuring you to do so.
Get a Comprehensive Written Contract
A reputable contractor will agree to a written contract.
Yost suggests a contract that includes a detailed description of the project, including the timeframe and all materials to be used; all guarantees and warranties; the total cost of the work, breaking down materials and labor; and a provision that protects you against attorney’s fees, court costs or damages if the contract is canceled.
Make sure there is no mandatory arbitration cause, or you will lose your right to sue.
Don’t Pay Upfront
Yost says a customer should not agree to place a large down payment or pay in full until the project is complete and has been inspected. And don’t pay in cash; a credit card offers more protection if something goes wrong.
Get Multiple Estimates
He also suggests getting at least three written estimates from three different contractors before going ahead with a project.
Arrange Your Own Financing
Finally, the AARP says you shouldn’t let the contractor arrange the financing, or you could end up being signed up for a home-equity loan with high-interest rates.
Senior citizens are seen by unscrupulous scammers as easy prey. It’s imperative to be smart and vigilant when dealing with any home improvement project to prevent being a victim of a scam.
While the professionals at the Kabb Law Firm do not handle elder abuse cases, however, we can help protect seniors through planning.
We can also direct seniors to someone to help them if there has been abuse or fraud.
The difference is care!