Attorney General Jon Bruning warned Nebraska consumers this week about an increased risk of home repair scams due to the extensive damage caused by recent storms.
“Following this type of devastation, people need to be extra cautious,” said Bruning. “These scam artists thrive on the increased number of consumers needing service and their heightened emotional state.”
According to Bruning, while most home improvement contractors are honest and perform a needed service to homeowners at a fair price, there are scam artists working to deceive Nebraskans. The Nebraska Attorney General’s office received 188 complaints in 2003 involving home improvement contractors.
Here are some tips to prevent consumers from being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous contractor:
· Don’t be pressured to sign a contract immediately. Take time to find out about the contractor’s work or company.
· Be cautious if a contractor says he has just finished work down the street and has enough leftover material to do the work on your home on the condition that the offer is only good for one day.
· Out-of-state contractors are more difficult to contact if there is a problem, so be careful working with a contractor that does not have a local address.
· Always get at least 3 quotes for the work to be done. The more prices you have to compare, the better able you are to make a fully informed decision.
· Ask friends what contractors they have used for the same type of work and if they were satisfied with the results.
· Make sure that the contractor is bonded, licensed and insured. Get proof in writing and then call the agencies to confirm.
· Insist on a written contract. This should include description of the work to be performed, materials to be used, the date the work will begin and the approximate completion date. If the contractor is not willing to put everything in writing, go to someone who will. Remember; don’t sign a contract that is not completely filled out.
· Keep records of all contracts, correspondence and anything related to the work done.
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