By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
Spring time storm damage can require quick clean-up and unscheduled home repairs. In addition, as the weather warms up, summer begs us to get started on home improvement projects that we neglected during the winter months.
Every year at about this time, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division experiences an increase in complaints about home-improvement and home-repair scams.
The vast majority of contractors offer legitimate services and quality results. But when the contractor engages in fraudulent or deceptive business practices as part of a scam, our office has the authority to intervene.
A scam we often hear about involves someone claiming to be a contractor approaching a homeowner saying they have “leftover” materials from a neighbor’s job. Then, they offer to do your work at a discounted rate if they can get a portion of their money in advance. Many times, these scammers leave the property with your money and never return.
You should always be especially cautious of people offering door-to-door home-repair or storm clean-up services. Often these transient sales people single-out homes where the homeowner is vulnerable to high-pressure sales tactics – an older person who lives alone, for example.
Here are a few simple tips to remember:
- If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- You should always get multiple written bids on home improvement projects to ensure quotes are reasonable and competitive.
- When selecting a contractor, it is always wise to ask for local references. Working with a well-known, reputable local contractor is always the best way to go.
- Friends, family and neighbors are the best sources for recommendations.
- You should make sure any contractor you work with is insured and carries all of the required local permits.
- Never give final payment for any work until it has been completed to your satisfaction.
If you believe you are the victim of a scam, our office is here to help. You can file a complaint with our Consumer Protection Division by visiting our website, www.ag.ks.gov, or by calling (800) 432-2310. Even if we find that there has not been a violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, the staff in our office can provide information on options to settle your disputes.