Consumer Alert

Home Improvement Scams

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Unfortunately, May can bring visits by people selling home improvement services such as home alarm systems, roofing, and asphalt paving -- and some of these people are con artists.

The paving scam is typical of this type of consumer fraud: A friendly salesperson approaches a homeowner offering to repave a driveway at a great price, claiming the company has left-over asphalt from a job nearby. The homeowner accepts, thinking she's getting a deal. But the job they do is shoddy and by the time the homeowner realizes it, the company is long gone.

If you are considering improvements to your home this summer, take time to find a reliable contractor. Don't hire contractors that come to your door unsolicited. Even if they seem honest and helpful, they probably are not licensed. If something goes wrong, you will have a hard time tracking them down. Some warning signs of a home improvement scam are:

  • High pressure sales
  • Demand for a cash only, upfront payment
  • Offer of a "special" price because they happen to have left-over materials
  • A contract or invoice that doesn't fully include the contractor or business name, physical location, and phone number
  • Reluctance to put all terms in writing

Know your right to cancel. Alaska has a cancellation period of five business days for sales transactions initiated by the seller that occur in a location other than the seller's place of business. Know your rights and don't hesitate to cancel if you have second thoughts about a door-to-door sale. And even though you have this right, never sign a contract until you've done your research and are sure about your decision. Don't hesitate to say no to high pressure sales.

For more on home improvement:

Consumer Protection Unit
May 2011