Watch out for fake contractor schemes

Check work licenses, online reviews

PHOENIX - With all the rain flooded homes and muddy pools we've seen in the past few days, you can be sure that fake contractors will soon be scamming a neighborhood near you.

It happens every year. They post flyers and knock on doors and pose as legitimate workers offering cheap labor.

But the reality is, they're really looking for their next victim. You just need to make sure it's not you.

That means your guard needs to be up, you need to be suspicious, and most importantly--you need to do your research.

It doesn't matter how nice, or cheap, or trustworthy they appear, don't give anyone asking for your money, the benefit of the doubt.

So before even having a conversation with a potential contractor, get their name and work license number so you can check for complaints and violations with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC).

It's important to run their names in the ROC system. Some bad contractors whose licenses have previously been revoked apply for new ones. That new number will be different, but the name is the same.

If the company doesn't have a license or isn't in good standing, I wouldn't take the chance.
 
Online reviews are also valuable. If the company has multiple bad reviews, you might want to look elsewhere.

And I can't say this enough--NEVER, EVER pay everything up front.

If a deposit is required it should be no more than 10 percent of the total cost of the job. Anything more? Find a new contractor.  

And for goodness sakes, avoid paying in cash. If the company folds or simply decides to pick up and leave one day, you have no shot of recouping that loss. Paying with credit or check allows you to dispute payment on unfinished or shoddy work.

No matter how small the job, make sure there is a rock solid, legally binding contract. Get it in writing, because verbal agreements mean nothing in court.

It should list costs of all materials and labor, itemizing everything that is to be done. Require that it include benchmarks. For example, once 25 percent of the work is complete, that percent of the balance is due.

If it sounds like I want to you be paranoid, I do. Because there is an entire industry right here in the Valley that makes it’s living by scamming our family and friends out of thousands of dollars. Often, because no one took the time to make sure they were qualified to do the job.

This year, don't let it be you.

Need my help? Call the Assistance League of Phoenix volunteers at 1-855-323-1515. You can also send me an e-mail , a tweet , or like the Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there.

AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!  If you want to be a volunteer and help consumers who call the Let Joe Know helpline, let us know. Just call the 855 number above. Leave your name, phone number, tell us that you want to volunteer, and we will get back to you. It's a great way to help others AND learn the latest scams and how to protect yourself!

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Let Joe Know protects YOU the consumer. We expose scams and hold businesses accountable for their contracts and agreements. Most important, we share consumer red flags before they hit your wallet!

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