Thursday, September 03, 2009

Seniors Warned Of Home Repair Scam

Home Repair Contractors Targeting Seniors

The following warning appears on the Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau website.

The Scam:

Unscrupulous home repair contractors are targeting seniors. Scam artists posing as handymen have been knocking on doors offering to do minor repairs around the house. The work that is being done by these handymen/contractors is being reported as being of a sub-par standard, or of a decent standard, but at an outrageous price.

Scammers often take advantage of elderly or disabled people by showing up on their doorstep and “embarrassing” them about the condition of items around their house that need repair (such as the fence, chimney, stairs,patio or yard).

In some instances contractors have even been known to write up a contract, with prices listed at rates far above fair market value. Seniors have agreed to the terms and costs on the contracts and have signed them. The sad part about this scam is that some of the contractors themselves are operating a legitimate business, but are using senior’s lack of knowledge about the true cost of repairs to take advantage of them. Seniors are often embarrassed that they have fallen victim to unscrupulous high-pressure sales tactics, especially when they have signed a contract.

How to protect yourself:

It may be unfair, but it is not illegal for a contractor to charge any price they wish for work to be completed.

Comparison shop. Do your research before hiring anyone to do work for you. Best to get a number of estimates in order to determine that range that a project will cost.

Ignore pressure tactics. Don’t fall victim to door-to-door contractors offering to do work. And don’t fall victim to embarrassment if someone does show up pointing out a project that needs doing.

Check them out. Not all handymen or contractors are scam artists. But you need to do your homework before hiring anyone to do work around your house. Check the contractor out with the BBB to see if we have any information on file about them.

Ask for references. Get the contractor to give you at least 3 references of past clients. Contact the references to see if they were satisfied with their experience with the contractor and if they have any suggestions or tips that might make your project run more smoothly.

Report it. If you feel you have been a victim of this type of scam or any other please contact your BBB to report the matter and file a complaint. This will help us to keep track of the reputable and unscrupulous people.


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