Invisible Home Improvements Scams
The Invisible Home Improvements trick is an alternate trick the BBB got a great deal of grievances about in 2013. Smitherman says home change tricks fluctuate little from year to year, and most include some kind of trashy workmanship from unlicensed or untrained laborers.
The hardest for property holders to catch, and subsequently the most straightforward for con artists to force off, are repairs or enhancements to the zones of your home that you can't see including tops, smokestacks, air channels and creep spaces.
He says tricksters might just thump on your entryway offering an incredible arrangement in light of the fact that they were "in the area," however they're beginning to utilize the telemarketing, email and even online networking to achieve mortgage holders.
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Invisible home improvements scam is the most common type of fraud done by scammers. The scammers try to target elderly and home based women who do not posses proper knowledge of these tactics done by scammers. They try to sell a product or service to the residents which either servers no value to the buyer or they keep delaying the process and mint money from them in the mean while.
Few of the most common home improvement scams
1. Special Deal, Today Only or Left-Over Product
Scam artists who play the role of contractors will show up at your doorstep saying he was just passing through the neighborhood and has left over materials from previous job. Natural disasters hit cities are prime location for the scammers to show up to repair damaged homes. They begin their repair work but once they are paid, may not return back or fail to provide quality oriented work. In other case, they may attempt to steal jewelry, antique pieces, money or any other valuables while working in your home. Sometimes, they may involve the home owner into unnecessary repairs.
Established contractors have enough business in their hands owing to advertisements and referrals. They do not feel the need to go door to door asking for work. For such repair works, go by reference, or work with licensed contractors who have authorized certificate and verified phone number and address. Also, check on the internet for previously reported complaints.
2. Home Improvement Loan Scam
Big home improvements demand big hole in the pocket. Home owners often seek financial advisors help to get home equity loan or some sort of financing. Unscrupulous contractors target such home owners leaving them in heavy debt.
How it works?
A contractor will show a modern redesign of your kitchen or offer to fix a roof for a price that seems reasonable initially. But since you do not have a budget for the remodeled design, he may offer to help by arranging money through a lender. Work begins and meanwhile you will be asked to sign a lot of papers which are blank or be asked to rush through without reading carefully. The papers signed are home equity loan papers whose interest and fee amount seem very high.
Be extra carefully while signing papers and go through terms and conditions thoroughly. Compare loan terms before signing any paperwork. Do not agree to home equity loan if you don't have money to pay monthly installments. Protect yourself from inappropriate lenders by keeping an eye out for red flags and approach any deal with skepticism.
3. Cheap-Work from Home Improvement Scams
Home improvement scam is the third most reported offense in CFA's 2011 Consumer Complaint Survey Report. Incomplete work or poor quality work or no works at all were sort of complaints reported. Here are some of the schemes used by scam artists to make quick buck through trouble prone home improvements:
Scam artist may convince you that the driveway needs some regular check and repair work. In order to repair it, they seal your driveway and ask you not use for next 2 days. In real sense, they use cheap materials that wear off in few months or do visible repair works and fled away with your money leaving unseen repair work as it was.
It is the most commonly used scheme of home improvement scams. Contractors inspect your chimney and misrepresent the need for repairs to prevent carbon monoxide from poisoning or a house fire. They even show images of damaged chimneys and damages caused due to delay in repairing the chimneys.
Hot Tar Roofing
Roofs are hot spots to be affected and fixed after hurricanes and other storms. Scam roofers take advantage of the victims by quoting high price for repairing the roof. It is usually difficult to verify whether the work is done correctly or not.
Duct cleaning and Maintenance
Contractors warn about the presence of dangerous mold in heating and air conditioning ductwork with an intention to scare home owners. They use small vacuum cleaner which does not serve the purpose of removing or cleaning the dust. In worst cases, when work is not done in right manner, can affect your ventilation system and create health problems.
Hire a trained contractor who has previous work experience or through reference. Do not rely on print or online ads. Always make sure whether a certain thing needs repair or not. If it does, get a second opinion of a reputable contractor.
Protect yourself from invisible home improvement scams
- Do not let anyone enter your home and do the inspection. Tell them you will call the company if you need any assistance. Do not let them enter your home.
- Be wary when they arrive in a truck without a company name or show out-of-state license plates.
- Do online search about the contractor's company. Check its ratings, work and complaints history with the BBB.
- Do not get carried away by online ads and prints.
- Go by recommendations from friends, relatives and neighbors.
- Get price estimates from two or three different companies. Compare their estimates before choosing one.
- Get every detail in writing from the contractor stating the work to be done, materials along with the quantity that will be used, start and completion dates and the total cost to be incurred. Read the contract carefully before signing it.
- Hold your payment until the stated work is done. Or else pay only substantial amount as initial deposit. And make payment through credit card or check, not by cash.
1. In March 2015, Vernon police arrested Hebron brothers with home improvement fraud victimizing elderly resident. Police believe there are many more victims and the investigation is being carried on. It is observed that the victim alone had been approached by two of these scammers, conducting home repairs for the resident.
2. Mahtab, the convict, was imprisoned based on number of complaints received by different home owners, mainly elderly people. He kept delaying work by giving lame reasons frequently. The scammer is accused of stealing $250000 from home owners in the name of invisible home improvements.
3. Stanley Rabner was sentenced for federal loan insurance fraud schemes in Pennsylvania. His typical tactics include overpriced material and labor charges, shoddy work, inflated loan interest rates and so on. The ultimate aim of the scammer was to make money by blindly selling stuffs to people who believed in him without any proper research.
4. A group of high school buddies formed Ameriquest Mortgage that used to defraud money from elderly, bankrupt and indebted home owners.
5. Two men were arrested by Lakeland Police Department who tried to fleece $2,700 from an elderly woman for spraying silver paint on her roof claiming to follow up previous work done on the roof.
6. A mother and son duo cheated a widow woman and took away $496,000 from her. U.S. District judge asked the mother to pay $57,828 as compensation to the widow woman and sentenced her son to four years in prison and pay $223,225 as compensation after pleading guilty.