Courtesy of the Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau
CANTON, Ohio - If your business is in the market for IT support, be sure to do your homework before handing over any money. Since March 2019, BBB.org/ScamTracker has received more than 50 reports about a China-based firm that has tricked dozens of people out of anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000. BBB reports show a total of $2 million-plus in losses to fake IT companies.
How the scam works:
You are looking to hire a company to help develop software, set up a call center, build a website or perform other technology work. You see an ad online for an IT company with a strong track record and competitive prices. At first, this firm appears to be everything it claims. You may even have a phone conversation with the CEO, who assures you that a team of professionals will work on your project. But once the "IT contractor" receives their upfront payment, everything changes.
The companies that reported to BBB Scam Tracker said they got counterfeit products or simply never received their order. People who paid for a website or software development told BBB that the contractor stopped responding to email or phone calls after getting payment. In other cases, consumers report receiving low-quality work and being charged two or three times more than the agreed-upon price.
The current spike in complaints involve a company using the names ITR, ITResources or Scott Freeman. However, expect those aliases to change as savvy consumers catch on.
How to avoid contractor scams: When hiring a contractor, whether for a home construction project or an IT business solution, similar tips apply.
n Ask for references. Ask the contractor for a list of recent references you may contact. Ask the references about the services performed, their overall experience with the contractor and the quality of the work.
n Don't be tempted by low prices. Overseas firms may advertise low prices, but hiring a local company with a strong track record may save you money, and headaches, in the long run.
n Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully reviewed it.
n Get multiple estimates and a written contract. Always get estimates in writing and never let any work begin without a written and signed contract. Do not be pressured into signing an agreement before you are ready, and make sure you read and understand everything.
You can find general tips for avoiding scams at BBB.org/AvoidScams. If you have been the victim of a contractor scam or another scam, help others spot fraudsters by filing a report at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips and more. The Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.