Here’s How to Uncover a Home Improvement Scam

En español | If you are a homeowner, it’s not uncommon to have contractors show up on your doorstep uninvited. They say they happened to be doing some work in the neighborhood and noticed that your house needs some repairs too. They’ll offer to fix your roof, repave your driveway or perform other repairs or renovations, for what sounds like a great price. 

When that happens, be wary: The smiling fix-it man or woman at your door might turn out to be an unscrupulous contractor or an outright con artist, out to fleece you with a home improvement scam. 

Shady contractors will often ask for payment up front. Some simply disappear with your money. Others will do shoddy work or claim to have discovered some hidden problem in your house that needs immediate attention and significantly raises the cost (a dishonest variation of the sales tactic known as upselling).

Con artists look to prey on homeowners when they are vulnerable. If your house has been damaged by a storm or natural disaster, a scammer may show up and try to persuade you to sign over the payment from your insurance company. Some crooks seek out older homeowners with memory or cognitive problems, hoping to con them into paying multiple times for the same work.  

Here’s what you can do to avoid being victimized by a home repair scam.

Warning Signs

  • Beware of contractors who say they stopped by because they just happen to be in your neighborhood. The good ones are usually too busy to roam around in search of work. 
  • Be skeptical if a contractor says he can offer a lower price because he’ll be using surplus material. That could mean he overbilled a previous customer or didn’t finish the work.

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