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October 9, 2012 > Contractor & Service Provider Scams

Contractor & Service Provider Scams

Submitted By Newark PD

If it sounds too good to be true...

We all know the rest of that sentence and the unfortunate reality that comes with being duped by someone offering something that was truly too good to be true. Weekly, countless people throughout the country fall victim to a variety of scams and schemes designed to take their money. Often this parting with their hard-earned money did not have to happen if they had taken the time to better assess the offer and weed out that which is fraudulent.

One area in which thieves like to prey is in construction scams. The comment "I was in the neighborhood" is a common opening line of these con-artists. That opening line is usually followed with an offer to do a particular project for you (repair a roof, clean your driveway, paint your house or any number of other offers) at a reduced price, because they are "already in the neighborhood." The most unfortunate side of this scenario is that some people take the service provider's word for it and never ask, "Which neighbor's house are you working on? "and take the next step of verifying the work by talking to that neighbor.

Sometimes, these thieves try to bully persons into their services by beginning a particular project before being given authorization. Their arguments can be quite compelling and can make a person feel fairly pressured to comply. It's important to stand your ground, not give into something you have not agreed to in advance and report these criminals to law enforcement.

To avoid the destructive forces of unscrupulous construction and service providers, here are some tips to follow:

* "We're in the neighborhood doing another job!"- Find out where and check with that neighbor to see if they are actually offering quality work.

* Do not allow someone into your home or backyard that you do not know or trust.

* Confirm that they have the appropriate license and bonding and that It is valid (don't take their word for it, take the license number and call the appropriate government licensing board, located in the government section of your telephone book).

* Ask for references, but keep in mind those providing the reference may be acquaintances of the service person, so use caution in accepting the comments of references.

* If they claim no permit is required confirm this by calling the planning or building department yourself.

* If unsure, don't agree to anything! If you are in doubt over whether or not to do something, ask a family member or a trusted friend to weigh-In on your decision and have a second set of eyes take a peek!

* Contract, contract, contract! Do not agree to something verbally; only proceed after you both have signed a contract (In many cases it is advisable to have a qualified third-party or legal counsel review a contract before signing).

* Only pay a down payment on the project and agreed upon amounts as the work progresses.

Consumer Protection

What to do if you have been scammed? The Consumer and Environmental Protection Division of the District Attorney's Office can help. Visit their website at http://www.alcoda.org/consumer_protection for further information or visit the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) website at http://www.cslb.ca.gov. The CSLB protects consumers by licensing and regulating California's construction industry.

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