Tips to Stay Alert in This Season of Contractor Scams

After Hurricane Harvey, many Houston neighborhoods have been witnessing an influx of the so-called “storm chasers.” Some of them are shady contractors looking to make quick money off local residents desperate to rebuild their homes quickly. In fact, contractor scams are an unfortunate trend that follows most disasters.

Scammer showing stolen money

There are too many stories of how people are scammed by con-artists posing as building and remodeling contractors. Some of them simply disappear with the money leaving the job unfinished; others lack the workmanship, licensed resource, and/or the paperwork to complete the job legally and to the satisfaction of the homeowner. If you are a consumer looking for a contractor, plumber, or any other remodeling professional for your flood-damaged home, here are some tips that will save you from getting ripped off by scammers.

Consumer Scammer Alert – What To Look For

Don’t Trust Door-to-Door Contractors. Be leery of anyone who shows up at your doorstep after the storm, offering to patch your roof, fix your AC unit, or rebuild your kitchen. Unscrupulous contractors may cause irreparable damage to your roof and disappear after you pay a deposit; or they may steal your AC unit or abandon your kitchen renovation project mid-way. Instead, check with friends, neighbors, or co-workers who’ve hired a contractor and ask them for their recommendations.

Ask for the License and Other Paperwork. Stay away from unlicensed or fly-by-night roofers and contractors. Check with your state’s licensing division, local building department or consumer protection agency to make sure a contractor is licensed before accepting their offer. Also ask them to show their workers’ compensation insurance as well as proof of liability.

Check Their Websites. Look for a reputed contractor whose reputation and record you can verify. Most good contractors have a website these days. Check their websites to know how long they’ve been in business. To further verify, you can do whois search and see how long domain has been active. This will give you a rough idea of how long the business exists.

See Their Previous Work. Check their portfolio online or ask them to show you the work they have done. A genuine contractor should also be ready to share a list of recent customers. You can contact those customers to ask about their experience with the contractor. Also, checking the Better Business Bureau and other review sites can be a great way to know if a contractor should be trusted.

Business Owners – Show Them Your Local!

While home and business owners are at the receiving end of contractor scams, such incidents are a blight on the contractor industry as a whole. If you own a contractor business, these scams may put a question mark on your services as well. This is why you should have everything in place in order to prove your legitimacy. ProEngage’s Local Houston SEO company experts recommend starting with this:

Have a Secure Website

Most reputable sites that collect personal information of visitors for purchases or identity verification have an SSL certificate that prevents third parties from stealing the data. If your site is SSL verified, you should see a “https://” before the website address. It’s the best way to let your customers know your website is safe.

Maintain a Consistent and Accurate NAP

You should have your full address with the state and zip code, phone number, and business hours put up on your website. In fact, you should have a consistent NAP — or Name, Address, Phone Number — across your website, local directories, listings, and social pages. This helps to get your business listed in the local search results, making it easier for local customers to find you.

Add Certifications and Qualifications to Your Website

ProEngage BBB A+ Rating LogoIf you are a BBB accredited business you should link to your accreditation page like we have here. If you are not, you should be… Simply stating that you are a licensed contractor is not enough. You should include your state license number to make it easy for a consumer to verify your licenses. It’s also a good idea to add customer success stories, customer testimonials or quotes, logos demonstrating professional accreditation, industry associations, and other qualifications to your website. These should ideally go at the bottom of each page where they are visible to the visitor throughout the time they spend on your website.

Showcase Your Customer Reviews Online

Be it testimonials on your websites, reviews on Facebook, BBB ratings, LinkedIn recommendations, or positive comments on any other channel — make sure to highlight them for your potential customers to see. This will help them view you as a business that’s trustworthy. While nothing can really guarantee that you won’t be affected by scam, these tips can go a long way in helping you protect your money and property or your business’ reputation during these difficult times.

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