When Storms Roll Through, So Do Scammers

Seasonal storms are hitting Indiana hard. Many communities have experienced flooding, severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes in recent days, likely causing damage to homes and property.

When storms roll through, scammers are not far behind. If your home or property has been damaged, beware of bogus home improvement contractors who may be looking to prey on your situation and swindle you into paying for shoddy, overpriced or unneeded work.

Door-to-door home repair scammers victimize people by using fear tactics and urging immediate action so that the customer doesn’t have time to fully vet the contract or company. They may tell you they are offering repairs for a discounted price only today or that they have worked on several of your neighbor’s homes. They may convince you to hire them, take off with your money and never complete the repair.

Home repair scams are one of the most common scams reported to the Attorney General’s Office. In 2014, the Attorney General’s Office received more than 800 home improvement-related complaints and has received 390 complaints in 2015 thus far.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office encourages people to follow the below tips to avoid getting scammed by a home improvement contractor:

  • Take your time. Don’t let the contractor rush your decision.
  • Do your research. Know how much you can afford and what you want done.
  • Get multiple price quotes from different contractors.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s Office to see if complaints have been filed against the contractor.
  • Check to make sure the contractor is locally licensed, bonded and insured. A performance bond provides the most direct protection for the consumer.
  • Opt for the local, well-established contractor rather than the door-to-door ‘storm chaser.’
  • Get a contract in writing that details what work is to be done and when it will be finished.
  • If the contractor came to your door unsolicited, ensure you receive a notice from the contractor of your ability to cancel the contract within three days for a full refund before signing any contract.
  • Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. Do not pay more than a third of the total cost as a down payment.

For more tips, click here.

If you believe you have been scammed by a home contractor, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516.