Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - With the unofficial start to summer behind us, the state Attorney General's office is alerting New Yorkers to several scams that are popular during the warm weather months.
In the first, a contractor says he's working on a neighboring property has extra material to work with and can fix your home for next-to-nothing. But the job and the materials are watered-down and don't last.
Also, beware anyone who "notices" downed branches and offers to trim your trees. The AG's office says the branches are sometimes down because the contractor broke them himself and plans to run up lots of charges in "unexpected problems"
Finally, beware of free inspections. They often turn up expensive solutions, like basement pumps or excavation work to prevent flooding, when all you need is to have your gutters cleaned or root growth removed from drain pipes.
The Attorney General's Office's Tips to protect yourself:
- Be suspicious of any unsolicited offer to work on your home. Taking the time to do some research now could save you time and money in the long run.
- Check out the contractor with the local Better Business Bureau.
- Get references, particularly about jobs completed a while back.
- Use local companies whose addresses you can verify.
- Get more than one written estimate that includes details about the materials to be used.
- Check with your town or city to see if permits are required. Don't let a contractor work without the necessary permits.
- Don't assume the lowest estimate is the best deal. Check the quality of the materials.
- Be clear that you won't pay for any work not included in the estimate, unless it's agreed upon in writing.
- Always be sure the contractor has valid insurance.
- Check with your local Department of Consumer Affairs to see if the contractor is licensed. Licenses are required in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties, as well as in the City of Buffalo.
- Always report a scam to local law enforcement and the Attorney General's Office.