AVOIDING  FRAUD

Choosing a repairman:

  1. Never hire someone who knocks on your door.
  2. Never hire someone who says they will file with your insurance company for you or that they will pay your deductible for you. It’s a scam.
  3. Get references from neighbors, friends, and building material suppliers. Check the quality of work that was done on previous jobs.
  4. If the person inspects the property don’t let him out of your sight. Some actually cause damage so it will need repair. Follow your gut feeling. If he is pushy, something doesn’t seem right, he has a local phone number and an out of state vehicle license, or if he makes you feel forced to decide immediately, don’t hire him. Let your instincts guide you. Some use a sweet tactic. A red flag is if he says he needs half his money upfront. If you are being pressured you can say, “I’m sorry, I can’t do anything until I talk with my…(policeman son, husband, insurance agent). If their company telephone number is a cell number, that’s a big red flag.
  5. If he says he can bring materials, he has probably taken them from another job and has cheated a previous employer.
  6. Get three bids. Don’t tell the contractors how much you have to spend on the project or their bid will be right there with that amount. Make sure the materials (window brand, shingles, etc.) are the ones you want. Cheaper materials could bring the bid down. Look for most qualified person.
  7. If insurance is paying for your work, besides getting an itemized estimate from your adjuster, also ask for a “scope estimate”. This lists the work that needs to be done, but has no prices. Then the bidder can fill in the blanks.
  8. Ask to see their license and insurance. When he says he’s licensed and bonded you want to make sure he is not referring to his driver’s license!
  9. Arborists: After a hurricane, everyone with a chain saw becomes an arborist. There is a list of arborists on the State Department of Agriculture’s website. Better arborists have $1,000,000 insurance policies.
  10. Have a written (typed) contract on the company’s letterhead with their full name, address and phone number. Be sure you understand the contract. Make sure it states all work must comply with all governmental codes and regulations. Ask for a list of all his subcontractors and ask for his guarantee in writing that they are licensed, insured and experienced. Make sure your contract states how you can get out of it/end it.
  11. Make sure you understand the warranty. If the company goes out of business, so does the warranty.



Payment:

  1. Have a written agreement about payment. Do not give more than 10% upfront.
  2. Make sure the contract spells out any issues relating to payment. There should be a payment schedule and what to do in the case of unforeseen changes.
  3. Payment should be tied to certain work completed, not time. Progress payments are tied to actual work.
  4. You can pay with a cashier’s check instead of cash. Just make sure you get a receipt with all the company information on it. You need a paper trail.
  5. Do not give cash for the person to buy materials. Go to the supplier and pay for them yourself on the day that they are needed. A trick some thieves use is to have them purchased early, stored in the yard, and then they are stolen during the night. If you can’t go to the store, ask to see the invoices.

 

Green Energy Fraud is on the rise. Claims are made that if you replace your windows you’ll save 40% when all you need to do is caulk. See http://www.energysavers.gov/



Additional Resources: