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Spring has sprung, the grass is green and you’re thinking about starting a home improvement project. You also think it might make sense to hire someone, rather than take on the job yourself. Just watch out for scammers selling home improvement dreams. Finding the right company for the job is important. A home improvement project gone wrong can cost you big time. Choosing the wrong contractor can cost you more than money; it can lead to delays, subpar work, and even legal problems.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Wisconsin SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) has some advice for you to consider before you hire a contractor. First, get several estimates and ask plenty of questions, including: How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year? Will my project require a permit? What types of insurance do you carry? Be sure to get a written contract. If the contractor says you don’t need a written contract, insist on one before the project begins. It should be clear, concise, and include who, what, where, when, and the cost of your project.
How can you tell if a contractor might not be reputable?
You may not want to do business with someone who knocks on your door for business, or, just happens to have materials left over from a previous job, or pressures you for an immediate decision, only accepts cash, asks you to pay everything up-front, or asks you to get the required building permits. If you have any concerns about a contractor you are considering for your project, check with the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. They can help you make an informed decision that may save you a lot of money – and a lot of anxiety.
What can you do if you are scammed by a contractor?
You should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at: http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
You should also file a complaint with both:
• Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection – File a consumer complaint online
• Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin – You should then file a report with your local police and sheriff departments.
To report healthcare and consumer scams, contact Wisconsin SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) at 1-800-488-2596, extension 317 or visit our website at www.wisconsinsmp.org to learn more.