In 2020, High Quality Contracting, Inc. saw a rise in the number of new customers who came to us after another contractor had scammed them. Many homeowners do not know how to avoid contractor scams.
Many of these cases involved widows and widowers who received life insurance payout and were taken for a ride. Older adults are targeted because they usually have a “nest egg” built up or have enough equity in their homes to take out a second mortgage for these improvements.
High Quality Contracting, Inc. knows how hard you and your loved one worked for your home. Having someone come along and take advantage of your situation is a hard pill to swallow.
Scams we have found a rise in are:
- Substandard work performed, many times not within code.
- High-Pressure Sales tactics stressing the urgency of the work to be performed.
- Incompleted work
- Inflated pricing
- Use of low-quality materials
- Targeting widows and widowers from local obituaries.
- Posing as a building inspector or other city/county official demanding work to be done. Then referring the homeowner to a specific contractor.
- Insisting the homeowner work with their finance company or lender.
To avoid being scammed, High Quality Contracting, Inc. suggests homeowners do the following:
- Verify that the contractor you are considering is licensed and insured.
- Check with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau and look for the contractor’s rating. The BBB assigns accredited members a rating from A+ to F depending on the companies past behavior and the number of complaints they have.
- Ask family and friends for references to contractors they have worked with in the past and had good experiences.
- Check out Angie’s List and look at the contractor reviews. See how other people in your area have rated that contractor.
- Get written estimates.
- Don’t assume the lowest bid is always the best. Remember that you get what you pay for. Check out the company’s reputation and the products they plan to use.
- Get a written contract. Never have a contractor start work on a handshake.
- Find out if you need City, County, or any State permits.
- Pay down payment to start work in a check, money order, or credit card and maintain accurate records. Never pay in cash.
- Use your banking institution for financing.
Even when we do all of our due diligence, sometimes we still get scammed, but the chances are much lower when you have done your research.
Further resources include and are not limited to:
Resources Federal Bureau of Investigation: Common Fraud Schemes
National Consumer Law Center: Home Improvement Scam Alert
Consumer Financial Protection Agency: Considering a Reverse Mortgage?
Better Business Bureau:
National Association of the Remodeling Industry Milwaukee: