Recent severe storms have led state authorities to caution against scam contractors. The Office of the Indiana Attorney General pointed to an Indianapolis tree service sued by the state for allegedly taking advantage of seniors as an example.
Cutter’s Tree Service and defendants Terry Sizemore, Zack Sizemore and Bill Carr Jr. were named in a Marion Superior Court complaint claiming they deceived seniors into purchasing unneeded and overpriced landscaping services, misrepresented their qualifications and failed to meet contract requirements. The defendants are accused of bilking a senior couple of more than $3,200.
“Door-to-door scammers victimize people by using fear tactics and urging immediate action so that the customer doesn’t have time to fully vet the contract or company,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a news release Wednesday. “Hoosiers impacted by recent storm damage should be especially wary of door-to-door repair contractors out to make a buck.”
The office provided these tips to avoid scams:
• Take your time. Don’t let the contractor rush your decision.
• Know how much you can afford and what you want done.
• Check with the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general’s office to see if complaints have been filed against the contractor.
• Check to make sure the contractor is locally licensed, bonded and insured. A performance bond provides the most direct protection for the consumer.
• If the contractor came to your door unsolicited, ensure you receive a notice from the contractor of your ability to cancel the contract within three days for a full refund before signing any contract.
• Get a contract in writing that details what work is to be done and when it will be finished.
• Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. Do not pay more than one-third of the total cost as a down payment.
Consumers who believe they have been scammed by a home repair or landscaping contractor can file a complaint with the attorney general’s office at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516.