Home Improvement Fraud
Each year when the weather turns nice, itinerant crews of roofers, pavers seal coaters, tree trimmers and day laborers travel from city to city, driving through neighborhoods and mobile home parks looking for victims -- mostly the elderly. Sometimes they offer to pave your driveway, repair your roof, or paint your house with supplies left over from another job.
This is just a scam. The repair work is completed very quickly, the quality is poor and the "repairs usually cost more than the original estimate.
A BUNCO artist working a home improvement scheme usually drives a commercial van or pickup truck through a residential area. Stopping to talk to a person working in a yard the BUNCO artist offers to spray the roof, coat the driveway or fertilize the lawn with materials left over from another job. Because the price quoted is low, the person does not ask for a written estimate.
After the work is done, the BUNCO operator asks to be paid a higher amount than the quoted price. The person is told materials used are stolen, and the BUNCO artist threatens to call the police or uses sheer intimidation if the higher price is not paid. To make matters worse, the materials used are often inferior. The roof coating might be whitewash, the driveway coating, motor oil, and the fertilizer made of sawdust and oil.
Before home repairs are made, deal with and compare estimates from several reputable companies. Verify identification of persons offering to make low priced repairs. If you are suspicious of the repair person, call local law enforcement immediately and give descriptions of the person and vehicle.
Related to Construction Fraud and Home Repair Fraud.
- The repairperson drives an unmarked truck or van with an out-of-state license.
- The worker has no business identification, local address or telephone number.
- You are offered a "special price" if you sign today.
- The worker wants upfront cost or fees, or accepts only cash.
- No written estimates or contracts are provided.
- The worker does not have any references.
- The offer sounds "too good to be true"
- The vehicles have out of state license plates
- The worker cannot provide any contractor's license, permits, insurance, or bonding information.
Generally, work that "adds to or subtracts from real estate" requires a registered contractor. Businesses that provide services such as gutter cleaning, pruning, lawn care or window washing generally do not need to be registered.
If you are planning to hire a contractor, make sure the contractor is registered, bonded, and insured. Check the contractor's references. Solicit several written bids.