Voice of the consumer: Use Better Business Bureau to avoid scammers posing as contractors
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Now that we’re starting to see some warmer weather in southern Colorado, people are beginning to do yard and house work. If you’re thinking about hiring someone to help out with your home improvement projects, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants to make sure you’re not tricked into giving your money to a scammer.
According to the BBB, some scammers pose as contractors and might knock on your door or leave a flyer at your house. Be wary if they’re offering a low price or a short timeframe to get in on the deal. The BBB says one tactic con artists like to use as part of this scheme is saying they’re working on other homes in your neighborhood and have leftover supplies.
Once a phony contractor gets started on a project, the BBB says they might start finding other issues that raise the price of their service. If you object, these scammers often threaten to walk away and leave the project half-finished. In some cases, a fake contractor might accept your upfront deposit and never return to complete the job.
In the Pikes Peak region, you can look up a contractor through the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department’s website, www.pprbd.org.
“The reason it’s important to check our website is to see if they have a license that will allow them to do work here in our area,” said Greg Dingrando with PPRBD. “Simply having a building license in Denver does not allow you to do work here in the Pikes Peak region. Homeowners should also make sure the contractor’s license is active and in good standing with PPRBD. If their license is expired or if their insurance is expired, they won’t be able to pull the proper permits.”
Dingrando said 2020 was an extremely busy year for home improvement projects, like basement finishes and new decks, since many people spent more time at home during the pandemic. He says 2021 is already off to a busy start.
“It is important to hire a licensed contractor so the proper permits can be obtained for a particular project,” Dingrando said. “Permits are not only required for most construction work, but they come with important inspections provided by PPRBD. Those inspections ensure that the work being done by the contractor is being done safely and meets the current building codes.”
According to Dingrando, PPRBD usually sees unlicensed contractors approaching homeowners after big weather events, like a hailstorm, but because the construction industry is so busy right now, he said homeowners should be on guard at all times.
Dingrando said some red flags people should look out for include a contractor telling the homeowner to pull a permit for them and “handshake deals” where no contract is signed. Homeowners should never pull permits for contractors, and any work you agree on should be written down in a contract.
If you’re not sure a contractor is legitimate, call PPRBD at 719-327-2880.
To report scams to the BBB, visit www.bbb.org/ScamTracker. Remember, you can also report scams, fraud and price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-222-4444 or visiting www.StopFraudColorado.gov.
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