Protecting yourself against home improvement fraud

Now that spring has sprung, maybe you’re thinking of tackling a big home improvement project that’s been on the back burner. But if that involves hiring some help, legal experts say it’s important to do your research before signing on with a contractor. Vermont, head to the Attorney General’s website and look at the Home Improvement Fraud Registry. There’s a list of more than 100 people who are criminally convicted of felony-level home improvement fraud. Make sure the person you’re thinking of hiring isn’t on this list. In New York, contractors must be licensed in certain counties but they are not required to have a license in Clinton, Franklin or Essex counties. It’s recommended to search names and contracting companies through the Better Business Bureau to read reviews and verify the legitimacy of home improvement claims. In Vermont, consumers can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424 or by emailing AGO. [email protected] to ask if the person they’re considering working with has any complaints filed against them. Before hiring a contractor, experts said it’s a good idea to: Ask the contractor for references Shop around. Don’t take the first offer someone gives you Keep your down payment to a minimum Always request proof of insurance Don’t make a final payment until you’re completely satisfied with the work Here are some warning signs to look out for: People soliciting customers by going door -to-doorClaims that the contractor was passing by and noticed a problem with your homeOffering discounts to use your home as a demo modelOnly accepted cash paymentsSomeone asking for the entire job or a large portion of the job to be paid upfrontClick here to contact the Vermont Attorney General’s office. Click here to contact the New York Attorney General’s office.

Now that spring has sprung, maybe you’re thinking of tackling a big home improvement project that’s been on the back burner.

But if that involves hiring some help, legal experts say it’s important to do your research before signing on with a contractor.

In Vermont, head to the Attorney General’s website and look at the Home Improvement Fraud Registry.

There’s a list of more than 100 people who are criminally convicted of felony-level home improvement fraud. Make sure the person you’re thinking of hiring isn’t on this list.

In New York, contractors must be licensed in certain counties but they are not required to have a license in Clinton, Franklin or Essex counties.

It’s recommended to search for names and contracting companies through the Better Business Bureau to read reviews and verify the legitimacy of home improvement claims.

In Vermont, consumers can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424 or by emailing [email protected] to ask if the person they’re considering working with has any complaints filed against them.

Before hiring a contractor, experts said it’s a good idea to:

  • Ask the contractor for references
  • Shop around. Don’t take the first offer someone gives you
  • Keep your down payments to a minimum
  • Always request proof of insurance
  • Don’t make a final payment until you’re completely satisfied with the work

Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • People soliciting customers by going door-to-door
  • Claims that the contractor was passing by and noticed a problem with your home
  • Offering discounts to use your home as a demo model
  • Only accepting cash payments
  • Someone asking for the entire job or a large portion of the job to be paid upfront

Click here to contact the Vermont Attorney General’s office.

Click here to contact the New York Attorney General’s office.