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When you think of getting scammed, you probably think of gas station skimmers or ordering from a less-than-reputable online store.
Unfortunately, there are much bigger scams that impact thousands of people across the country every day: home repair scams. Whether it’s a contractor providing subpar work or someone taking your money without ever providing services, unscrupulous contractors are everywhere.
We have five red flags to look for when choosing a contractor, and what to do if you’ve been the victim of one of these scams.
If you’re planning home renovations, keep these things in mind to ensure you aren’t the victim of a handyman scam.
Some companies employ door-to-door salespeople to find customers. This is a legitimate sales tactic, but we recommend doing your due diligence before hiring a contractor. Look at their website and reviews. Little to no web presence and bad (or no) reviews are red flags. Proceed with caution.
A door-to-door contractor may knock on your door and say they were just in the neighborhood, possibly finishing a job, and noticed that some part of your home needs work. They may even offer you a discount because they have leftover materials they can use to repair your home. Lucky you, right? Not so much. Good contractors are typically too busy to pick up last-minute repair jobs.
It’s not rare for Atlanta to be impacted by strong thunderstorms, the remnants of a hurricane, and a winter storm all in the same year. Of course, these can cause a lot of damage to homes and businesses in the area. After storms, you might notice an increase in contractors advertising and going door to door, some of whom aren’t local to your area.
While some legitimate contractors travel to storm-stricken areas to help rebuild (you’ll often see this after devastating tornadoes hit the midwest), some are deceitful and have earned the nickname “storm chasers.” They swoop in after a storm, sometimes going door-to-door, and use high-pressure tactics to sell you home repairs. They may offer to work with your insurance company for you, offering to pay your deductible. Sometimes they don’t even complete the job, they just take your money and run. If they do complete it, the quality will be subpar. If you need home repairs after a storm, you can avoid contractor scams by reading reviews and asking to see the licenses and certifications of any contractors you’re considering
Note that Window World of Atlanta is always here to help you after a storm, but we’ll never pressure you to choose us.
If a contractor requires full payment up front, consider that a red flag. Note that some contractors may give you a discount for paying in full up front, which isn’t necessarily suspicious. It’s when they require it that you should move on.
On the same token, be wary of contractors that insist you pay with cash. There’s nothing wrong with paying for your home improvements with cash, but if they insist on it, that should be a red flag. They’re likely operating under the table, which means they may be cutting corners elsewhere.
One of the reasons so many homeowners choose Window World is our flexible financing and payment plans. We don’t require payment in full until the job is done.
Everyone loves a good deal, but sometimes things aren’t what they seem. High-pressure sales tactics like “deals” that are good for that day only are common in home repair scams. This is a tactic that is used by unscrupulous contractors to get you to sign a contract before you’ve had time to think about it or get multiple quotes.
While Window World of Atlanta does run promotions, we never run single-day deals or pressure you into signing. While looking for home improvement contractors, we encourage everyone to speak with multiple companies to get multiple quotes for your job.
When you hire someone to complete a renovation on your home, there are certain things they should always handle, and certain things you should.
Some home improvement projects require permits, which your contractor should always pull. If a contractor asks you to pull the permits (they may say you can save money pulling them yourself), that is a warning sign. Contractors must have an active, up-to-date license to pull permits so if they are trying to pass that responsibility on to you, it may mean that their license is expired or suspended. Note that most window or door replacement jobs don’t require permits.
One thing you should always handle yourself? Financing. Some scammers will attempt to convince you to take out a home-equity loan or reverse mortgage to pay for repairs. They’ll arrange for your lender to pay them directly instead of dispersing funds to you. This is extremely risky and you should never let your contractor handle your financing. At Window World, we offer in-house financing via Wells Fargo, and you’ll always be in charge of your own account.
If you have been a victim of a contractor scam in Atlanta – or anywhere in the state of Georgia – you should file a dispute with the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division.
At Window World of Atlanta, we aim to make renovating your home easier than you ever thought possible. As a locally-operated, family-owned business, we treat your home as if it were our own. See what real homeowners in Atlanta have to say about working with us and explore our windows, doors, and siding to see how we can help improve your home. When you’re ready to get started, request your free consultation!