Consumers urged to be wary of home improvement scams
Attorney General Linda Kelly urges consumers to be watchful for door-to-door home improvement contractors offering roofing, paving and other services.
Kelly said that during the warmer months of spring and summer the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection sees an increase in "traveling contractor" complaints from consumers across Pennsylvania.
All Pennsylvania homeowners considering home repairs or improvement projects should understand their rights and carefully review information about the state's Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, which when into effect in July 2009.
The law requires written contracts for all projects over $500, including specific information about the total price for a project, a start-date and end-date, details about the materials being used and an explanation of a consumer's three day right to cancel a contract. The law also requires contractors to register with the Attorney General's office and carry a minimum level of insurance.
Tips to avoid traveling contractor's scams:
• Be wary of contractors who approach you with unsolicited offers or stories of "just being in your neighborhood."
• Do not feel pressured by "special offers" or deals on "left over" materials.
• Be cautious of contractors with out-of-state license plates.
• Get multiple estimates for home improvement projects.
• Get references for recent work and check those references (ask other consumers if they were happy with the work that was performed, if there were any problems and if they would hire that contractor again.)
• Research businesses carefully before signing any contract.
• Do not conduct business with an unlicensed/unregistered contractor.
• Never pay in cash. Cash only contractors should raised a red flag to consumers.
• Pay in full only when the job is complete and you are satisfied.
• For larger projects, costing $5.000 or more, state law requires that contractors not charge more than the cost of the project as a down payment.
All home improvement contractors operating in Pennsylvania are required to provide consumers with their registration number, which must be included in all contracts, estimates and advertisements. Consumers can verify a contractor's registration by using the "Home Improvement Consumer Information" button. located on the front page of the Attorney General website at www.attorneygeneral.gov or by calling 1-888-520-6680.