June 16, 2024

With a robust demand for home remodeling projects, such as enhancements of kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor spaces, there is an alarming surge in deceptive practices by fraudulent contractors. These scams potentially cost unsuspecting homeowners, thousands of dollars.

According to a recent report by JW Surety Bonds, roughly about 10% of Americans have fallen prey to these scams, losing an average sum of $2,426. The study surveyed approximately 1,000 Americans and disclosed these typical contractor schemes:

As per the survey, Baby Boomers are the most susceptible to these scams (15%), closely followed by Millennials (13%).

Be Alert: Signs of a Scam

The study pinpoints five dominant signs of a potential fraud, as reported by the victims:

  • The contractor either fails to execute the job or delivers sub-par work inconsistent with agreed standards (63%).
  • The contractor often misses appointments or is consistently tardy without any acceptable excuse (40%).
  • Unexpected fees or charges that were never discussed initially get added (26%).
  • The contractor avoids answering queries and is reticent about providing progress reports (25%).
  • The contractor either does not provide a written agreement or the contract is vague without clear definition of job specifics or costs (13%).
  • Maddie Weirman, a representative for JW Surety Bonds – a countrywide provider, shares a few insights to safeguard homeowners from contractor fraud:

    • Verify the contractor’s credentials: Always insist on the contractor’s proof of license and insurance. Weirman advises, “Do not hesitate to ask for the proof of insurance.” Hiring insured and licensed contractors offer homeowners an additional safeguard; surety bonds offer financial protection against contractor fraud.
    • Demand written contracts and scrutinize them thoroughly. “Ensure that the contract encapsulates the contractor’s name, information, and a clear timeline of when the project begins and ends,” suggests Weirman.
    • Resist paying the complete sum upfront. Although it’s customary to pay an initial deposit, Weirman cautions homeowners against paying the full contracted amount until they are satisfied with the completed project.