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  Protect Yourself Against Fraudulent Contractors

Aug 23, 2010 14:37 ET

The Durham Regional Police Service would like to advise citizens of several ongoing scams that have cost local residents thousands of dollars.

Home improvement contractors have convinced citizens to provide a substantial down payment before repairing their roofs, dry walling rooms, paving driveways or doing various other tasks. Once the down payment is received, the contractor never returns.

Not only are these fraudulent business practices, they are often targeted at senior citizens, who sometimes feel intimidated or unsure of what their options are.

Normal practice usually requires a down payment of no more than 10 per cent when working with a trades person. The balance of the payment should be made once the job is complete and the homeowner is satisfied with the quality of the job.

Other helpful hints include:

• Ask contractors for references and contact them to talk to other customers
• Do not make a decision immediately no matter how much of a deal is offered at the time
• Get at least three comparable quotes from different contractors to ensure the best price
• Protect yourself with a detailed written contract
• Discuss terms of payment up front so there is no misunderstanding
• If the contractor leaves an old ladder and some scraps of wood behind after an initial or second visit, it doesn’t not mean he/she will ever return
• Don’t invite “cold call” contractors into your home and advise them you need several days to think about it. If they refuse to leave, call the police at 905-579-1520

The vast majority of contractors are legitimate business people. However, every summer, the DRPS receives complaints about improper business practices and fraud. For more information about good business practices when working with contractors or sales people, please visit:

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has excellent information about hiring contractors as well as details about the Ontario Consumer Protection Act.

PhoneBusters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre is a valuable source of information regarding how to identify and report fraudulent activity.

The Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus also has a detailed list of consumer advice when it comes to home maintenance.

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) for helpful ideas regarding renovations.

Below are attached files.
fraud thumb (JPG file, 44.7K bytes)