The Better Business Bureau warned homeowners who need to get their driveway sealed, that a scam is making its way through the Chicago area.
The BBB's Scam Tracker received numerous reports of contractors who trick people with supposedly good deals, according to a news release by the agency.
The contractors have allegedly been showing up at people's doors or making calls on the phone. They claim to be doing work in the area and ask if the individual would like someone to lay asphalt at a discount.
“Once you’ve paid, the scam contractor may disappear completely," said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB of Chicago. "If you attempt to contact them, you quickly realize their contact information was a sham. In other cases, the contractor may do shoddy work and demand you pay in full.”
The agency issued the following recommendations to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.
- Research companies and contractors before you hire. Start with BBB.org. If the contractor has multiple negative reviews and complaints, don’t hire them.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers. Most scams involving contractors begin when a random contractor goes out of their way to offer you an estimate you never asked for.
- Get everything in writing. Ask for an estimate in writing. Don’t let a contractor start working on a project until you have a written, signed contract that outlines start and complete dates, a detailed description of the work to be provided, material costs, payment arrangements, and warranty information.
- Stagger your payments. Most contractors will require you to pay a percentage of the total price up front, but you should never pay the full price before the work has begun. Instead, make an agreement to stagger payments so you can inspect work at various stages of the project.
- Use safe payment methods. Paying with a credit card is the best practice, since your credit card company will likely offer you some recourse if the company is fraudulent. Checks are also a safe way to pay, but make sure you write them out to a company, not an individual.
For more information, visit the Better Business Bureau website.