BBB warns of repair scams

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2011

CHARLOTTE – If you have damage to your home, your roof or trees on your property from last night’s storm, the BBB has a warning for you to watch out for “storm chasers.”
“All it takes is a business card, a cellphone, some photocopied fliers and a hammer for someone to claim they are a contractor,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. “The contractor who shows up may actually be a ‘storm chaser’ who is based out-of-state and is using his pickup truck as an office.
“The number one type of home repair that consumers are researching with the BBB right now is roofing,” added Bartholomy.
The BBB advises homeowners to be wary of contractors who promise work at cut-rate prices. They may show up at your door, advertise in local newspapers or put fliers in your mailbox.
“Homeowners should hire a local contractor with a good track record,” said Bartholomy. “There are thousands of reputable contractors who will deliver quality work, on time and within budget.”
BBB’s Home Repair Checklist: 10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor:
• Track record – Check out a company’s BBB rating and complaint history at www.bbb.org. It’s fast, easy and free. You can also call the BBB at 704-927-8611 or 1-877-317-7236, toll-free in N.C. and S.C. Customer service staff are available, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (excluding 12-1 p.m. for lunch).
• Cost comparisons — Get at least three bids in writing and be sure you compare the bids based on the same warranty, specifications, labor and time.
• Licensing — Check to see if the company you plan to hire has the proper licensing. In N.C., contractors must be licensed if the total job exceeds $30,000. In S.C., contractors must be licensed if the total job cost exceeds $5,000.
N.C. General Contractors Licensing Board, click on Licensee Search;
S.C. Contractors Licensing Board, click on Licensee Lookup.
• Insurance — Verify the company’s liability insurance to protect you against damage. You can also check with the department of insurance in your state.
N.C. Dept. of Insurance – 1-800-546-5664 toll-free from N.C.
S.C. Dept. of Insurance – 803-737-6180 or 1-800-768-3467 toll free from S.C.
• References – Ask for references from the company’s last three jobs and check them out before you sign a contract. Do not hire someone who is driving through your neighborhood or who puts a flier in your mailbox and claims to be doing work with your neighbors.
• Written contract — Do not permit work to start without a signed, written contract that includes start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done and warranty information. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
• Deposit required and payment — Do not pay more than 25 to 33 percent of the total job cost as a deposit. Final payment should not be due until the job is completed. Do not pay in cash; pay by check or credit card.
• Warranty — Get warranty information in writing on products and installation. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
• Bonding — Be sure all workers are bonded to protect you against theft and damage.
• Criminal history — Check out anyone you allow into your home to see if they have a criminal history.
N.C. online offender search – online offender directory search;
S.C. Dept. of Corrections – instructions to obtain information on offenders.
For more information, please visit www.bbb.org.

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