Summertime may be a time of relaxation and vacations for most, but unfortunately fraudulent contractors don’t take the summer months off. Instead, these scammers take advantage of the fact that people are out of their typical routines during the season, and use those distractions to con homeowners in a variety of creative and dangerous ways.
In this article, we uncover the two most common forms of summertime scams, and provide some tips for protecting yourself from these fraudsters.
The Most Common Contractor Scams in Summer
Contractor / Home Repair Scams
Contractor fraud can happen at any time, but homeowners should be especially cautious during the summer months. For significant portions of our country, summer is storm season and any storm could potentially damage your home or business. Natural disasters like tornados, hurricanes, flooding and wildfires may bring out the best in people. Still, unfortunately, some individuals prey on those who are adversely affected by these disasters.
Learn More: Who Is Most at Risk for Contractor Fraud?
It is important to be cautious of “Storm Chasers,” or out-of-town contractors who come into areas affected by a natural disaster or large storm to solicit business. Although not all of these out-of-town contractors are scammers, some certainly are.
Keep in Mind: Roofing scams are the most common type of contractor fraud in the summer.
These contractors may offer quick fixes that do not truly repair the damages to your home. They may also make big promises they cannot deliver, leaving you in the lurch. Another danger is that the contractors may also lack proper licensing in your area.
How to Avoid Scammers When Hiring a Contractor:
- Get multiple estimates.
- Get everything in writing.
- Contact your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverage and specific filing requirements.
- If you are displaced, save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging and other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
- Do your research on the contractor you are considering hiring. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints before you hire a contractor.
- Resist high-pressure sales. Be cautious of phone or door-to-door sales pitches from unknown contractors.
- Request and obtain a written contract before work starts.
- Read all documents a contractor asks you to sign. Be cautious of signing over any rights you have on your insurance claim to a contractor.
- Be careful in allowing contractors you do not know to inspect your roof or any other area of your home you cannot see like attics, crawl spaces and ducts. Although most contractors abide by the law, some don’t. An unethical contractor may create damage to get work.
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Car Repair Scams and Fraud
In any given summer, millions of people will potentially be driving on the road for summer vacation. With so many on the road, it is only natural that many individuals will end up having their car break down or be involved in an accident.
More fatal crashes happen in summer than any other time of year. If this happens to you, be careful when getting your vehicle repaired so you don’t end up getting scammed.
Common car repair schemes include the shop using unsafe parts, inflated repair bills and unnecessary repairs. To avoid these car repair fraud pitfalls you should do the following:
How to Avoid Scammers When Getting Your Car Repaired:
- Ask for a written estimate before you authorize repairs.
- Ask if repairs are guaranteed.
- Check the shop’s history with the Better Business Bureau.
- Get several estimates from different shops.
- Look for a car repair shop with certified auto mechanics.
- Avoid shops that use high-pressure sales tactics or refuse to answer your questions.
Did You Know: Due to a sharp increase in automobile fatalities involving teen drivers between Memorial Day and Labor Day, this time of year is referred to as the “100 Deadliest Days.” Learn how to protect you and your family during this stretch of time—and throughout the year—by getting in touch with your insurance agent today.
Summer should be a time to relax and enjoy the sunshine. By being aware and careful, you can avoid scams and fraud that ruin your fun in the sun.
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