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Beware of home improvement scams! | News

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Beware of home improvement scams!

Polk County, Florida- Don't fall for it! Home improvement scam artists are at it again in the greater Tampa Bay area, and local authorities have tips on how you can detect them before being duped. 

The scams typically have one common theme- "...it sounds too good to be true (and probably is)," said Sheriff Grady Judd in a recent press release.

While there are many variations of this scam, Judd says it usually involves a random knock at your door from someone offering construction or home improvement work for a significant discount- commonly sealing driveways or roofing repairs.

Not long after being paid, and almost always before the "job" is done, the scammers skip town. Since their work trucks are typically unmarked, and their "business" doesn't exist, customers are out cash, and have no way to contact them.

Sheriff Judd offers these tips to steer clear of being scammed

  • Request a written estimate on all home
    improvement offers and compare the prices. Con artists are notorious for
    charging a higher price for inferior materials and unnecessary repairs. Without
    a written estimate, victims get trapped into paying extremely high total costs
    when the job is "finished."
  • Do not be rushed into a "special
    bargain" - often described as a "one-time" offer. An example is
    that a Traveler will claim he has excess asphalt, tar, etc. from another job
    and he will sell it "cheap." Remember, if it sounds too good to be
    true - it probably is.
  • Do not do any business with any
    "contractor" with an out-of-state vehicle license.
  • Be careful responding to any roadside sign
    offering work this tactic is often used by Travelers. Out-of-state telephone
    numbers are also used in many of these scams.
  • Call trusted family or friends to help you
    verify soliciting "contractors."
  • Do not pay for anything until all services
    are completed to your satisfaction.
  • Do not give out credit card numbers over
    the phone.
  • Your best option is not to do business with
    any traveling soliciting contractor contact local trusted construction
    companies and ask for references for honest local contractors.

And for Polk County specifically:

  • Any legitimate Polk County business soliciting work will have a Business Tax Receipt from the Polk County Tax Collector, a soliciting permit from the Clerk of the Courts, and a Florida Contractor's License. If they do not have all of these, do not do business with them.
  • Report all suspicious offers or
    solicitations to the Sheriff's Office immediately at 863.298.6200.

Click here to verify an individual or a business is licensed.

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