Defend yourself against contractor scams

If you're going to hire a contractor, it's important for you and your money that you employ somebody trustworthy. These tips will help you avoid contractor shams.Come to the table prepared with these strategies for staying away from the more common contractor scams.

Call a few references

While it is not uncommon for private contractors to show up for a client meeting with three references, it's worth it to ask them for one more. Ideally, you need the extra reference to be somebody who actually had to call the contractor back to have them fix a problem with their work. This is the best way to determine how a contractor really works. It will help you know the contractor's values.

Make sure you've a backup to help

Typically, contractors are honest with you. It is still better to be safe than sorry. Many people live alone. Give the contractor the impression that there will be someone else there by having someone else with you in the meeting. Your friend will eventually leave and so will the contractor. Lock the doors and windows after they leave.

Use Better Business Bureau resources

Going to the Better Business Bureau inside your area to check out a contractor is always a good idea and makes sense. Not everybody does this though. Check them out with BBBs in surrounding states, particularly if you seek home remodeling following a natural devastation.

Verify license and bonded status

Before any contractor is employed, you have to verify the contractor's license, operating permits and bonds. Federal Emergency Management Agency catastrophe inspector Lanard Cullins told Bankrate that customers should verify a contractor's documents through the secretary of state's office in any state in which they're licensed. It may be a good idea to talk to local authorities as well. Make sure there have not been any legal troubles with the contractor.

Phae Howard of the National Center for Prevention of House Improvement Fraud said to go to an insurance agent on home remodeling to find out what you want for a contractor bond.

Insurance issues

Speaking of insurance, one thing a consumer ought to know for certain before hiring a contractor is whether the contractor's insurance is in effect. Stolen equipment is a fact of life, and you also want your contractor to be prepared.

Sometimes contractors will ask for insurance information and get a hold of them for you. Do not do it. Cullins warns the scam can hurt. Never give personal insurance information or proceeds to any contractor.

All supplies have to be bought by the contractor doing the work

Contractors should not be asking you for money for supplies. That is an unprofessional one. Don't give the contractors the money if you do have to buy. Don't give them the supplies right away at the store either. Deliver them on site.


After the permits were pulled, have an inspector check the project. You are able to use the inspector after the project also. This is a safe thing to do.

Have the right contract signed

Unless you are sure about the details, including anything in the project, don't sign the contract with a contractor. Before you sign the contract, have it reviewed by an attorney.

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