Beware This Scam if You are a Homer Owner

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Beware This Scam if You are a Homer Owner

While not a new scam to hit home owners, local police are warning against individuals posing as driveway paving contractors who offer great deals on a paving job while seeking deposits up front. What happens in this scam is that a contractor offers a great deal on repaving a driveway and seeks a deposit up front. They don’t leave with the money and never return, though that can happen in some scams. They actually show up and start demolition on the existing driveway, which is what one might expect for a contractor that is replacing a driveway. However, they will disappear after putting in a bit of effort into demolition, never to return.

As a real estate agent, I have encountered a lot of contractors and deposits up front are not uncommon. However, home owners do have avenues to discover whether the “contractor” in front of them is legit. A clue that the contractor may not be legit is the very reason a home owner may want to act quickly, which is being presented with a deal that seems too good to pass up, or too good to be true. My father’s words are ingrained in my mind, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” So what do you do if you are faced with a great opportunity to get your driveway paved, or some other home improvement opportunity from a contractor that knocked on your door? You verify their license with Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

Asking a contractor for their professional business license can yield a lot of information, but may not all together resolve the issue for someone who knows what type of license they are attempting to verify. Years ago I encountered a legitimate handyman who claimed to be a licensed contractor. When I forced the issue and told him I was unable to verify his license through DPOR’s license lookup search, he told me he had a business license with the county. A license with the county is simply a way to pay taxes to the local municipality on income earned from the business. Scammers are unlikely to have either one, since they are not running a legitimate business, but DPOR is where a contractor’s license is issued, not a business license. The difference is that licensed contractors through DPOR are required to carry a certain amount of liability insurance. Good to know for future reference.

It is also suggested you do research about the company or the contractor seeking your business. In this day and age any legitimate business owner seeking to be found is going to have an online presence. Read about their business. Call the business phone number. Read reviews. Ask the contractor for satisfied customers you can call. When pushed with requests for information they were not expecting, a scammer’s body language will let you know they are on the spot, even if they do manage to come up with a name you can call for a reference. Lack of eye contact, fidgeting and verbal stammering are things we have all been witness to that lead us to suspect someone is lying.

In the article referenced above, police offer additional precautions about keeping records when working with a contractor that you can then use in a filing a report if the work you have hired out to be done is not completed and you suspect you have been the victim of a scam. Of course, if you do need work done to your home, calling your friends, family or the agent that sold you your home is likely to yield legitimate contractors with good reputations. I am more than happy to share any reliable contractor I know with anyone in need. Get in touch when you need a contractor, be it for HVAC, roof, deck, plumbing, electrical, landscaping or general contractor. If I don’t have one, I’ll use my network to find a professional, reliable contractor.

Chris Ann Cleland
Associate Broker

VA License #0225089470
Long & Foster Real Estate
Call or Text: 703-402-0037

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Chris Ann Cleland, not Long & Foster. All content is written by Chris Ann Cleland without the aid of artificial intelligence.

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