Each spring as the weather begins to improve and homeowners assess damage from the winter season, the need for home repairs arise. While the majority of work is completed by legitimate contractors, this is also the season when the Arlington County Police Department receives an increase in reports of tree trimming and home repair frauds. The police want homeowners to remain alert and understand your rights as consumers so you don’t become a victim.
Homeowners should be suspicious of any contractor who:
• approaches you at home unannounced
• pressures you to make an immediate decision about the proposed repairs
• claims that they have leftover materials or that they happen to be working in the area
• refuses to provide copies of their insurance certificates and/or license numbers
• accepts only cash payment for services rendered.
When looking for a contractor, homeowners should consider the following:
• Shop around – get multiple estimates from different contractors, review them closely and take your time making an informed decision after researching the contractor of your choosing. Check with other homeowners who had work performed by the contractor and call the Consumer Protection Hotline (http://ag.virginia.gov/
• Contact your homeowner’s insurance agents – request a list of preferred contractors and most agents will provide at least three contacts for contractors that are already confirmed as being licensed, bonded, and insured.
• Review the contact carefully – ensure that the scope of work matches the agreed upon terms. The contract should include the following information:
o A description and total cost of the services to be performed
o Types of materials to be used
o Start and completion dates
o Warranty information, if applicable
• Confirm that the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured – ask for copies of their insurance certificates and license numbers.
• Inspect the work before making final payment – never pay the total cost of a job prior to the work being performed,
• Time is on your side – if the job is not an emergency, don’t rush or feel pressured by the contractor to do the job immediately.
If you find that you were a victim of fraud or were a target, please file an online police report (https://police.arlingtonva.
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