Consumer Tips: How to avoid contractor fraud

gavel

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Tips on how you can protect yourself against construction fraud.

  • Make sure you select a New Mexico licensed contractor
    • Any person or business that does most types of building work, such as painting, paving, roofing, carpentry, siding, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, etc, must be licensed in New Mexico.
    • You can look up licenses here: https://public.psiexams.com/index_login.jsp
  • Ask for a written bid for the work to be done, get more than one bid and evaluate the bids you receive
    • You have the right to ask any contractor for a written estimate of the work to be done. The bid should include the work to be done, the materials to be used or purchased, the quality of the items to be purchased, the estimated costs, the labor estimate and timeline and the contractor’s name, address and license number.
  • Get references from the contractor; check the references; ask to see photos of the work completed
  • Contact Construction Industries Division to confirm licensure and check on complaints; Contact the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau and check on complaints filed against the contractor
  • To guard against hiring a disreputable contractor:
    • Never sign a blank contract
    • Insist on a written contract that details the work to be performed, the materials, the costs and the date the work is to be completed
    • Never pay up front for work that has not been started
    • Never write a check to an individual or any one employee of a specific business
    • Never pay an advance for work that has not been completed to your satisfaction
    • Never make a final payment until you are completely satisfied with the work performed
    • Require that all changes to the contract be in writing
    • Remember that if the contract is signed at your home, by New Mexico law, you have a three day right to cancel the contract
  • What should you watch out for to avoid a home improvement scam?
    • Unsolicited, traveling contractors who come to your home and point out problems you have not noticed
    • Contractors who arrive in unmarked trucks or vans and refuse to provide proof of insurance, licensure and references
    • Contractors who offer you “special deals,” limited price offers or pressure you to decide in a short time
    • Contractors who say they were doing a job in the neighborhood and have “extra material” and will give you a reduced rate
    • Contractors who won’t give you a written estimate, won’t disclose their hourly rate or who want to talk about the price of the job later
    • Any high pressure sales tactic or tactics that makes you feel uncomfortable or rushed to decide
    • A company or person who demands that you make full or a significant payment before the project is started

—————–
(Source: New Mexico Attorney General’s Office)

blog comments powered by Disqus