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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
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Tips to Avoid Home Repair Fraud

Keep the following items in mind when contemplating hiring a contractor for home repair or remodeling work:

  1. Get more than one estimate and get them in writing.

  2. Don't fall for high pressure sales tactics and prices that seem "too good to be true."

  3. Get the name and address of the business and check old phone books to see how long they have been in business.

  4. Inspect the contract carefully. Check to see that it includes:

    • the contractor's full name, address, and telephone number

    • a description of the work to be performed

    • starting and estimated completion dates

    • total cost for work performed including charges for estimates

    • schedule and method of payment including down payment, subsequent payments, and final payment

  5. Do not sign a contract that has blank spaces or that you do not understand.

  6. Find out whether the contractor guarantees his or her work and products.

  7. Get lien waivers. This protects you from claims against you or your property in the event a general contractor fails to pay subcontractors or material suppliers.

  8. Don't make final payment until you are satisfied and all subcontractors have been paid.

  9. Remember, you have three business days to cancel any contract if the sale is made and signed at your home. The contractor CANNOT take this right away from you by initiating work, selling your contract to a lender, or any other tactic.

    The following are typical examples of home repair rip-off schemes:

    • Unsolicited door-to-door salespeople with no local connections offer to do home repair work for substantially less than market price.

    • A company which lists only a telephone or post-office box number solicits for repair work.

    • A contractor refuses to provide proof of insurance and references when requested.

    • Someone offers to inspect your home for free without authentic identification establishing their business status.

    • A contractor demands cash payment and/or full payment before they complete a job.

    • A contractor asks for a check payable to a third party.

    • A contractor offers to drive the homeowner to his/her bank to withdraw funds to pay for their work.

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