(Lincoln, Neb) Has recent storm damage left your home in need of repair? Or, are you thinking about making some home improvements this spring? If so, it’s important to make sure you don’t fall into the hands of an unscrupulous con artist. While most home repair specialists and home improvement contractors perform a valuable service at a fair price, there are those who take advantage of their customers.
“Nebraskans take pride in their homes,” said Attorney General Jon Bruning. “These con artists make promises to improve your home’s value. But they’ll walk away with your money and leave you with shoddy work or nothing at all.”
The Nebraska Attorney General’s office has received 59 complaints about home improvement contractors this year. The Better Business Bureau has received 31.
The Better Business Bureau keeps records of company reliability and customer complaints. Access to these reports and other tips can be found on its Web site at www.bbb.org.
“People work hard for their money and need to be cautious in selecting a contractor. Always check with the Better Business Bureau before you hire,” says Jim Hegarty, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
Here are some tips for consumers to follow if they’re considering hiring a contractor:
- Always get at least three estimates. Compare the prices and what’s included for the price. Be sure you are comparing apples and apples.
- Ask friends for recommendations.
- Make sure that the contractor is bonded, licensed and insured. Get proof in writing and call the agencies to confirm.
- Insist on a written contract. Contracts should include description of the work being done, materials used, and beginning and end dates. Don’t sign an incomplete contract.
- Keep records of all contracts, correspondence, and anything related to the work done.
- Out-of-state contractors can be more difficult to contact if there’s a problem. Be careful working with a contractor who doesn’t have a local address.
Consumers who believe they have been victims of a contractor scam should contact either the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free at (800)727-6432 or the Better Business Bureau at (800)649-6814. Consumers can also file a complaint online at www.ago.ne.gov or www.bbb.org.