CONSUMER ALERT: BEWARE OF HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR SCAMS DURING COVID-19
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2020
YORK, PA – During the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudsters, and unscrupulous contractors can take advantage of people’s fear and uncertainty. The York Builders Association (YBA) is reminding homeowners to protect themselves from home improvement scammers taking advantage of the pandemic.
While much home construction and remodeling work in Pennsylvania is not considered life-sustaining during the current COVID-19 crisis, contractors can perform emergency repairs and services.
“Unfortunately, scammers often use a crisis or natural disaster scenario to distribute flyers or postcards door-to-door – even post online ads for emergency repairs services. The forthcoming stimulus checks can also increase the likelihood that scammers will be looking for opportunity. It’s unfortunate that anyone would exploit a crisis like this, but we’re hopeful that if we continue to share reminders and call attention to the steps consumers can take when hiring a contractor, fewer people will fall prey, said Laurie Lourie, Executive Vice President of the York Builders Association.”
Steps you can take to stay clear of unscrupulous contractors:
- Use a contractor that is registered with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA) was designed to protect consumers and authorize criminal penalties for home improvement fraud. Search online by business name or HIC registration number
- Require copies of current workers’ compensation, property damage, and general liability insurance certificates.
- Ask for and follow up with references.
- Be wary of ANY contractor that asks for a large payment or “cash only” upfront. Upfront payments will vary based on the size of the project and materials required but be suspicious of requests for payments of more than 1/3 of the entire cost upfront.
- Always get more than one estimate but be cautious of unusually low-priced bids.
- Require a clearly written contract.
- Ask for proof of a legitimate local business – for example, a Facebook page, website, business cards, etc. Scammers often travel from surrounding areas in unmarked vehicles, making them more difficult to track down.
- Work with a member of the York Builders Association. YBA members are required to be HIC registered, insured, adhere to a code of standards and are subject to a peer-review process. Additionally, consumers can reach out to YBA at any time during the process with questions and concerns when working with a member of the association. Find a YBA member here.
To report an unregistered contractor, call the Home Improvement Registration Hotline at 1-888-520-6680. Complaints about unregistered contractors may also be emailed to the Attorney General’s Office at HIC@attorneygeneral.gov
The York Builders Association is a non-profit organization chartered in 1964 and affiliated with the Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The mission of the York Builders Association is to advocate for the building industry by promoting standards of ethics, and education and services to benefit members and the community. For more information, contact the York Builders Association at 717-767-2444 or www.yorkbuilders.com.