Avoiding Fraud When Working with Home Service Professionals
As we enter spring and with summer right around the corner, it is the perfect time to begin planning your home repair and home improvement projects. From your yard to your kitchen, you may decide to rely on a home service professional to complete the job. Before hiring someone, however, it is important to do your research to avoid being scammed. Here are some dos and don’ts from Hazel Eringis of Home Service Connections.
Do your due diligence and ask questions. Whether you need a minor repair or a major kitchen remodel, it is important to vet the professionals before hiring them. Don’t hire a contractor merely based on cost or word-of-mouth. Instead, be sure to do your research, ensuring they are properly licensed, insured and have a good reputation with positive reviews from past clients. How long have they been in business? Are they licensed to work in your area? Do they warrant their work for a period of time? If an incident occurs, is the company insured? Ask these important questions upfront and verify the information.
Verify licensing and insurance. Protect yourself by verifying that the home service professional you’re considering hiring is properly licensed and insured. Licensing laws vary by state, county and even city, so be sure to research your local licensing requirements. Ask for a copy of their license and confirm its validity with the local regulatory agency. The company should not only have general liability insurance, but they should have worker’s compensation insurance, too, so you’re protected if a worker gets hurt on the job. Ask for a copy of the certificate and contact the insurance carrier for verification.
Look for red flags. Soliciting door-to-door, accepting cash only and requiring the entire payment upfront are just a few red flags that should make you think twice before hiring a home service professional. Until you’ve done your research, don’t give anyone money.
Review the contract carefully. Whether you are working with an independent contractor or a large company, they should provide a detailed written estimate. The contract should be extremely specific about who is responsible for what, how long it will take to complete the work, and what the payment terms are. Be sure to review and understand all the terms before they begin working on your home.
Home repairs and home improvements can be a big investment, so be sure to do your due diligence to avoid losing money to a fraudulent contractor. For an online directory of trusted providers to maintain and update your home, visit HomeServiceConnections.com.
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