One of the most popular categories of fraud is the Contractor Fraud (also known as Home Building Fraud or Home Renovation Fraud). This term applies to the illegal practice of renovating, reforming, repairing, rebuilding personal property by misrepresentation of services, inflation of costs and project remuneration. It is usually practiced by small firms, or incredulous individuals that guarantee quick repairs for low prices. Generally, those repairs and upgrades are unnecessary, or even harmful for your property.
Do not forget that not all the contractors are con-artists – most of them are honest workers, but still be careful with all the warning signs that we will mention below and make sure you do everything possible to protect your budget and your property.
Let’s start with the fact that insurance fraud can go both ways – either you want to get free money out of the deal using a dishonest behavior or you were just unlucky to comply with a crooked building contractor. Anyway, the subsequent consequences will be unpleasant (i.e. fees, jail time, loss of reputation, etc). Then why is this fraud so popular?
First of all, people always seem to improve, decorate, repair their properties, especially when the weather becomes warmer. Respectively, con-artists play very well with the desire to enhance the quality of our lives. They analyze carefully our never-ending appetite to have the best things almost for free. Let’s prove it with some statistics: according to Echo Research survey, in 2013, 72% of homeowners had their to-do projects for home improvement (planning to spend an amount of $4,000), and approx. 35,000,000 people want to move in the same year (that overcomes the previous year statistics with 50%). The majority plan to do improvement projects for their homes this year (including small repairs, de-cluttering, painting, landscaping, bathroom updating, hiring professionals to stage or clean up, remodeling a single room, new furniture acquisition, updating their appliances, etc.). By any means, con-artists have a strong work background.
Charges and Punishment
A contractor fraud may include: selling and installing faulty parts, taking money for a job that is never done, extorting money in any other way, using poor quality or recycled materials, reporting about unexpected costs. Consequently, the penalties are very subjective, according to the degree of the fraud – restitution, fines, jail time. Everything depends on the seriousness of the offense. In order to define it, we must take into consideration the value of the damaged property, previous convictions and the offender’s intent.
What should I do in order to avoid being a victim?
After a careful research, Better Business Bureau showed that there are several typical scam scenarios that con-artists use, and asking money up front is one of them. Therefore, our first suggestion is not to pay more than 10% of the job total up front. Do not listen to absurd excuses (for example, a cash-emergency designed for some materials, or need to rent Earth-moving equipment). Also, do not forget that even honest home contractors ask for this kind of pre-payment, so just be careful with the amount.
Another dishonest way to get money off you is reporting “out-of-nowhere” problems that require upon-prize investment. Sometimes, occurred issues are veritable enough, but it is better for you to draw up the best agreement that will include different work descriptions for a fixed price for anything that might arise in the process. Moreover, your worker might propose you extra materials for a low price - this is one of potential fraud indicators. Work out the details. A crooked building contractor might insist that he does not need to pull a permit, but remember that you need to have a permission for any significant construction project. So in order to avoid potential harm and to protect your property and your budget – always ask for a building permit.
One of the home improvement scams wears the guise of a “traveler”, which means that an individual goes from door to door, saying that they just finished some work for your neighbors and proposes you to contribute on your potential project. They can be very creative so don’t get fooled by a kind smile, and consider hiring professionals, it will cost you less in perspective. If the proposed deal isn’t very detailed – it is a warning sign.
One of the most important advice you can take is – do not take constructors’ words at face value, even if they look like very trustworthy individuals. Don’t hesitate to draw up contracts, agreements, or other kinds of documents. Get everything in writing so it will assure your financial safety. Scrutinize anyone who is providing construction service for you. In other words – do your research and don’t be shy, because con-artists know very well their job.
Legal-Bistro: Find out how to get your best contractor fraud case. Either you are charged of this fraud, or you are a victim of a con-artist, go to legal-bistro and search for the best solution. All you have to do is click here, create an account and describe your case.
Note: You remain anonymous until you decide to reveal your identity to the lawyer you have chosen, and it’s absolutely free for consumers so you have nothing to lose!