Stein: Avoid home repair scams this summer | Opinion

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Summer can be the perfect time to make home repairs and upgrades. But this summer, contractors may need to raise prices to deal with rising costs due to supply chain issues and labor shortages. Reliable and trustworthy contractors will raise prices only to the extent that they need to. You need to be on the lookout for scammers who take advantage of the situation by charging high fees for no reason or doing shoddy, unreliable work that leaves you behind. Here are some tips to save your hard-earned cash.

Always do your research on a company before deciding to do business with them. Don’t be fooled by a salesman’s promises or a flashy website. Research their services online to see customer reviews and make sure the company is legit. Check with the Better Business Bureau and our office’s Consumer Protection Division to find out if consumers have filed any complaints against the company. Also, make sure the contractor is licensed – by law, a contractor must be licensed if a project costs $30,000 or more.

Obtain written estimates from at least three companies before doing business. Gathering multiple offers will help ensure that you don’t get ripped off with unfair prices.

Always insist on a written contract and know your right to cancel. Under state law, you can cancel a contract up to three days after signing it, and the contract must provide instructions on how to cancel, if: (1) the contractor or representative personally solicit; (2) the agreement takes place elsewhere than at the place of business of the entrepreneur; and (3) you did not initiate contact and request the contractor to come to your home to perform the work. If you have the right to cancel, and if you change your mind or notice a red flag about the contract within three days, you must inform the contractor in writing. Also, if a contractor or appliance company asks you to sign a contract on an electronic tablet, you should insist on getting a printed copy of the contract right away, especially if the three-day right of withdrawal expires. applied.

Beware of anyone who comes to your house and offers to fix a problem you weren’t aware of. Scam artists often offer a quick fix for what they claim are needed repairs to your roof, driveway, or something else at a great price. They will also start working on a repair and then claim to have spotted other pressing issues that need to be addressed. Never fall for these tricks. Instead, you should always get a second opinion from a company you trust before you start working.

Do not pay for work before it is completed. Bad actors often convince people to pay for the work but never complete it. If a deposit is required to purchase materials, use a credit card to make payment. You can dispute the charges if the work is not completed. Then pay on a schedule as the job is completed and don’t make final payment until the job is completed to your satisfaction.

Last year, our office received over 800 home improvement problem reports. Many people are struggling to find a contractor due to increased demand – and scammers will seek to take advantage of people’s desperation. If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, report the incident to the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice. Call our office at 877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at https://ncdoj.gov/complaint.

Josh Stein is the Attorney General of North Carolina.

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