In the Wake of Criminal Charges, BBB Tips on Hiring Contractors

Yesterday, the Missouri attorney general filed criminal charges against a contractor for scamming homeowners. The filing included multiple felony counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, stealing, and unlawful merchandising practices.

According to the attorney general, the contractor made false promises to do roofing and remodeling work for consumers. He demanded significant upfront payment and then, in most cases, performed no work and provided no materials. The total loss is more than $20,000 from seven consumers.

Reading about this, it seems like a good time to offer some BBB tips for hiring contractors. These are especially important when dealing with big jobs and large sums of money.

  • It is a good idea to get at least three bids for any major job.
  • Research the business and owners carefully before signing a contract or paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at www.midmobbb.org or by calling 573-886-8965.
  • Ask for references and contact them.
  • Before paying anything, make sure you have a signed contract outlining exactly what work is to be done, a timetable for completion and an explanation of what happens if either the business or consumer reneges on the agreement.
  • Ask the contractor for proof that he or she is bonded and insured.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment.
  • Do not pay everything in advance.  It is a good rule to pay a portion when you sign the contract, and the final payment only after you are satisfied with the completed work.
  • When the work is completed and the contractor has been paid, make sure you have received lien waivers showing that subcontractors and materials suppliers have been paid for the job.

For more tips and information about making good consumer choices, visit www.midmobbb.org.

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