September 25, 2023

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Montgomery County sees ‘overwhelming’ volume of dwelling enhancement scams

3 min read

Montgomery County, Maryland, is sounding the alarm for home owners, as the county and condition see an avalanche of experiences of dwelling improvement ripoffs.

Montgomery County, Maryland, is sounding the alarm for homeowners, as the county and condition see an avalanche of reviews of house advancement scams.

“It’s just too much to handle how several issues we are getting,” mentioned Eric Friedman, director of Montgomery County’s Office of Client Security.

Friedman mentioned the cons really don’t involve modest projects, these as having ripped off immediately after buying a new fence or window. Instead, they are commonly huge jobs that charge a great deal of cash.

“We’re speaking about tens of hundreds, hundreds of thousands of pounds that consumers are paying out upfront for all distinctive forms of household advancement work,” Friedman reported.

In quite a few of these situations, so-identified as contractors display up to a person’s home and offer you to do assignments for them. They will say they have leftover components from one more venture they are accomplishing nearby and offer a deal to get the job done on your home.

Friedman reported there are also these referred to as “woodchucks” — men and women who get you to employ them to trim trees, and then when chopping tree limbs, they will explain to you there is a thing wrong with your roof and that they can enable you resolve the issue.

Another popular kind of scammer is acknowledged as a “traveler.” In these conditions, a human being demonstrates up, convinces a home owner to fork out a down payment for a task then disappears.

Friedman explained the to start with rule is to in no way seek the services of somebody who isn’t licensed, and normally do your research on a contractor you are thinking about hiring.

Montgomery County is also performing on a case in which a contractor took much more than $1 million from numerous consumers, then filed for individual bankruptcy and still left the owners substantial and dry.

Friedman mentioned there are methods to lessen the hazard of being taken in by unscrupulous contractors.

“What we say is ‘do vetting, not betting,’” Friedman explained. “Don’t just wager that you imagine the contractor is heading to be good.”

Friedman advisable carrying out an on-line look for and verifying by way of the county, state or even websites these as that a contractor is certified and insured.

“You must under no circumstances do enterprise with an unlicensed contractor, it’s just not harmless,” Friedman said.

Montgomery County’s customer safety site allows you see issues against providers and contractors, as effectively as any resolution that came from grievances.

Also, if a contractor asks you to pull permits for them, discover one more contractor, Friedman additional.

“If there’s a violation, you really don’t want the county government to situation the violation to the property owner, you want them to issue it to the true contractor,” he said.

When executing your exploration, make absolutely sure the contractor has a physical handle that you can confirm.

After you opt for a contractor, get every thing in producing. Friedman claimed a deal need to stipulate what sort of supplies the contractor will use, how significantly time it is heading to acquire for them to full the career and what type of guarantee you will obtain for the challenge.

And if you are asked not to use credit rating playing cards, and to use money apps for payment as an alternative, Friedman explained which is a negative notion mainly because the limited information and facts some of these apps offer can final result in a useless end for investigators.

“It’s challenging to keep track of them down, if not unachievable,” Friedman claimed.

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