Red flag phrases from fraudulent contractors…
- “I was in the neighborhood.”
Beware of the handyman who comes knocking unsolicited, with news he happened to notice some problem with your home’s roof, driveway, chimney, etc. Out of state license plates are also a clue.
- “I need cash upfront. Or at least a large deposit.”
Never pay upfront. Legitimate contractors have credit lines to buy materials and don’t charge before the work is done. If a deposit is necessary for a really big job, it should be no more than a third of the total estimate payable on the day the materials arrive at the job site.
- “I can help you finance the project.”
A special deal with a lender could really be a home improvement loan scam, sticking you with high interest fees and points. Once the contractor has been paid by the lender, he may have little interest in completing the work.
- “Check my references.”
Sleazy contractors can easily supply the names and phone numbers of buddies to give bogus praise. Call your state’s contractor licensing board or your town’s building inspector.
- “We have a special limited time offer.”
- “I have leftover material from another job.”