Avoid Home Repair Fraud
If you own a home, then you've probably needed repairs. Performing upgrades on your home in the form of a new roof, new kitchen, or addition can increase its value.
But home improvements can also be needlessly expensive and frustrating if you pay for work that is not performed, work that does not meet the building codes in your town, or work that is of poor quality. For these reasons, it's important to take extra care when you hire someone to work on your home.
Keep the following items in mind when contemplating hiring a contractor for home repair or remodeling work:
- Get more than one estimate and get them in writing.
- Don't fall for high pressure sales tactics and prices that seem "too good to be true."
- Get the name and address of the business and check to see how long they have been in business.
- Inspect the contract carefully. Check to see that it includes:
- the contractor's full name, address, and telephone number
- a description of the work to be performed
- starting and estimated completion dates
- total cost for work performed including charges for estimates
- schedule and method of payment including down payment, subsequent payments, and final payment
For a thorough overview of recommended steps to plan for and secure a contract for home repairs, the Attorney General has prepared the guide.
Document the Discussion of Your Home Repair Consumer Rights
The contractor should present the Home Repair Consumer Rights document for any work valued at $1000 or more. This form, which is available from the Attorney General's Office, describes the necessary elements that should be in a contract for work, according to the Consumer Repair Act.
After going over the items, both the contractor and the customer should sign the form. While the contractor should be providing this document, you can also download it and have it ready as you secure contracts for work.
Remember, you have three business days to cancel any contract if the sale is made and signed at your home. The contractor CANNOT take this right away from you by initiating work, selling your contract to a lender, or any other tactic. Seniors over the age of 65 have up to 15 business days to cancel a contract made and signed at your home.
If you believe you've been a victim of a fraud or a scam, please submit a complaint to the Attorney General's office:
Warning Signs of Home Repair Rip-off Schemes
Watch out for:
- Unsolicited door-to-door salespeople with no local connections who offer to do home repair work for substantially less than market price.
- A company which lists only a telephone or post-office box number solicits you for repair work.
- A contractor who refuses to provide proof of insurance and references when requested.
- Someone who offers to inspect your home for free without authentic identification establishing their business status.
- A contractor demanding cash payment and/or full payment before they complete a job.
- A contractor who asks for a check payable to a third party.
- A contractor who offers to drive the homeowner to his/her bank to withdraw funds to pay for their work.
Home Repair Fraud after Natural Disasters
Illinois residents impacted by disaster, such as hail storms or flooding events, need to be on alert for home repair con artists looking to exploit homeowners and local businesses that need repairs due to weather-related damage. During these times of distress, scammers called “storm chasers” can swoop in to prey while homeowners are vulnerable.
The following resources can help you flag potential scams and ensure you are protected from potential fraud: