Avoiding Contractor Fraud and Home Improvement Scams

AARP Pennsylvania is urging homeowners to be vigilant against contractor fraud and home improvement scams as warmer weather approaches and homeowners begin planning for repairs and renovations.

Contractor fraud and home improvement scams can cost homeowners thousands of dollars and leave them with shoddy workmanship, unfinished projects, or even damage to their homes. Scammers often target older adults who may be more trusting, but anyone can fall victim to these scams.

To help homeowners protect themselves, AARP Pennsylvania offers the following tips:

  • Do your research: Before hiring a contractor, check their credentials and references. Ask for a list of previous clients and follow up with them to ask about their experience.
  • Get multiple estimates: Don’t settle for the first contractor who comes along. Get multiple estimates and compare them to ensure you are getting a fair price.
  • Don’t pay upfront: Avoid contractors who demand upfront payment or large deposits. Reputable contractors typically require a deposit or payment after the work has begun.
  • Get everything in writing: Make sure to get a written contract that includes all the details of the project, including the timeline, payment schedule, and materials to be used.
  • Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics: Don’t be pressured into making a decision on the spot. Take time to review the contract and make sure you understand all the terms.

“Home improvement scams and contractor fraud are unfortunately all too common, and can have devastating financial consequences for older Pennsylvanians,” said Mary Bach, Chair of the AARP Pennsylvania Consumer Issues Task Force. “That’s why it’s important to do your research, get everything in writing, and be wary of high-pressure sales tactics. By following these simple steps, you can protect yourself and your home from these types of scams.”

David Kalinoski, Associate State Director of Community Outreach, emphasized the importance of being proactive in protecting oneself from scams. “It’s important to take action to protect yourself and your home. Don’t wait until it’s too late to check references, get multiple estimates, and review contracts thoroughly. A little bit of effort upfront can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road.”