Better Business Bureau launches program to counter home improvement scams

The Better Business Bureau has launched “Your Home HQ,” a nonprofit aimed at educating consumers on common household scams.

Throughout the year, homeowners will need to buy products, hire services or install items, providing opportunities for scammers to exploit and steal money using both familiar and new tactics, Dennis Horton, director of the bureau’s regional office, said in a news release from the bureau.

In 2023, the BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report showed that home improvement scams were the riskiest amongst consumers 55 and older, but with the aging of the population, all age groups, including Millennials, are being impacted, according to the release.

Homeowners are often targeted by scammers in security system services and home maintenance. Unethical companies may falsely claim their alarm provider is out of business or offer fake upgrades, according to the release.

Similarly, driveway paving scams involve contractors offering discounts with leftover materials, demanding large upfront payments and disappearing. To avoid these scams, homeowners should get multiple estimates, check BBB ratings and thoroughly research companies, according to the release.

The bureau provides advice on how to best prevent scams:

  • Get multiple estimates: Obtain several quotes to understand the average cost and spot outliers.
  • Ask for credentials: Verify insurance, licensing, qualifications, and identification of repair technicians.
  • Sign a written contract: Ensure the contract details costs, work specifics and cleanup plans. Read it carefully.
  • Take your time: Don’t rush decisions; scammers often create a sense of urgency.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off, seek another option.
  • Be safe with payments: Avoid large upfront payments; use staggered payments and credit cards for protection.

For more information, sign up for the bureau’s free consumer newsletter at BBB.org/ChicagoBuzz.

If a scam is spotted, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

Visit BBB.org or follow @ChicagoBBB on social media.

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