Let’s say you need some concrete poured on your driveway, or a fence mended, or some paint refreshed. You can just hire that friendly handyman who’s working on your neighbor’s house across the street, right?
Well, not so fast. Unfortunately, some of the “contractors” out there are not licensed. In fact, sometimes fake contractors steal a real contractor’s business card, and use it to gain trusting clients! Make sure your contractor is who he says he is, and that his license number is legitimate.
Also, remember to seek out at least three estimates before hiring anyone to do work on your home. This will help to ensure that you receive a fair rate on the work.
After you hire a contractor, it is customary for him to ask for an upfront payment. This proves that the customer has hired the contractor in good faith, and intends to pay him for work performed. This is standard procedure, but can open up financial vulnerabilities if you aren’t careful. Never pay more than 10 percent or 1,000 dollars (whichever is less) up front. According to California law, this is the most that a contractor is allowed to charge for a holding deposit.
If your contractor asks for more money than allowed by law, consider the request a major red flag and a potential sign of a scam artist. Once he gets the money, a con artist will disappear – along with your money.
Finally, be aware that many con artists intentionally target older people. One scammer in the San Diego area created fliers, advertising his “Christian” contracting service. He then left these fliers on cars in a church parking lot. But did he choose family vehicles and pickup trucks? Of course not! The fliers were left on Buicks and other cars that looked like they might belong to elderly churchgoers. One lady was bilked out of thousands of dollars when he charged her for money he never performed.
Contractor fraud is a growing problem in California. Use the above tips to ward off trouble, and as always, call us for more information on keeping your money safe.