If your driveway needs paving or repairs, don’t trust just anyone to do the job. BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of unscrupulous contractors who trick homeowners with supposedly good deals. Victims end up with shoddy pavement — or nothing at all — to show for what they paid.
How the scam worksA contractor shows up at your door or calls you on the phone. They claim they’ve been doing work in your area and noticed you need someone to lay asphalt. Because they are already working nearby, they can give you a discount. If you agree to the price, they will ask for a percentage of the fee up front. If you ask questions, the contractor will be hesitant to reveal details about their business or office location.
Once you’ve paid, the scam contractor may disappear completely. If you attempt to contact them, you quickly realize their contact information was a sham. In other cases, the contractor may do shoddy work and demand you pay in full. If you protest, the contractor may use intimidation tactics, such as threatening a lawsuit, to convince you to pay up.
Tips to protect yourself from contractor scamsB
- e wary of unsolicited offers. Most scams involving contractors begin when a random contractor goes out of their way to offer you an unrequested estimate.
- Research companies and contractors before you hire. Search BBB.org for paving companies in your area. If the contractor has multiple negative reviews and complaints, don’t hire them. Often, a simple internet search can reveal if companies or individuals have been involved in fraudulen
- t activities or provided unsatisfactory work to previous clients.
- Get everything in writing. Ask for an estimate in writing. Don’t let a contractor start working on a project until you have a written, signed contract that outlines start and complete dates, a detailed description of the work to be provided, material costs, payment arrangements, and warranty information.
- Stagger your payments. Most contractors will require you to pay a percentage of the total price up front, but you should never pay the full price before the work has begun. Instead, make an agreement to stagger payments so you can inspect work at various stages of the project.
- Use safe payment methods. Paying with a credit card is the best practice, since your credit card company will likely offer you some recourse if the company is fraudulent. Checks are also a safe way to pay, but make sure you write them out to a company, not an individual. Paying cash or using an electronic wallet app is risky since there is no way to stop the payment or get your cash back if anything goes awry.
For more informationAnother common summer scam to watch for is “free roof inspections.” You can read BBB’s tips on hiring a contractor at www.bbb.org/article/tips/14081-bbb-tip-hiring-a-contractor.
If you’ve been the victim of a contractor scam, be sure to report it at BBB.org/scamtracker. Your report can help expose scammers and protect other consumers.