Don’t get conned by a home improvement scam

con man at front door​You're about to sit down to dinner when the doorbell rings. A man in work clothes says he's just finished replacing a roof in your neighborhood and has extra materials left over. He offers to replace your roof for half price.

Or maybe the guy says he patched your neighbor's driveway and has extra asphalt and sealant, and he'll do yours right now – cheap.

Sound too good to be true?

Yes! You're right to feel suspicious.

The Better Business Bureau warns consumers there's been a flurry of scams recently, and they often fit a pattern. It might be a furnace company phoning to offer a free inspection and cleaning. Or while you're parked at the grocery store, a man offers to fix the dents in your car, right on the spot.

Too often, the BBB sees con artists take a homeowner's money and do shoddy work, or promise to return to finish the job and then disappear forever.

If the offer involves cash only, high upfront payments, no written contract, or high-pressure sales pitches, stop. Trust your gut. It might be a scam.

Ask for references, and follow up. Insist on a written contract. Don't cave in and make an immediate decision. Do your homework.

Arm yourself with knowledge – check out the BBB's "10 steps to avoid scams."

roofer pounds nail with hammerAlso, conduct your due diligence before hiring a contractor for any kind of work. Read our tips for hiring contractors.

You also can learn a lot about contractors by checking their listing with the department of labor and industries. In Washington, you can go online to review a contractor's license, bond, and any customer complaints. Oregon offers a similar site for checking construction contractors.

by  Jon Osterberg

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