Oakland County sheriff warns of home repair scams

Scams often leave homeowners with poor quality, even incomplete repairs

DETROIT – The Oakland County Sheriff's department is warning of a scam that targets homeowners looking for home repairs.

It's a common scam that's repeated every summer; construction crews go door-to-door claiming that they have leftover supplies from another job, need to get rid of them, and can perform work on the cheap. Their prices seem too good to be true—because they are.   

The repair work often costs more than the original estimates, the job is completed very quickly, and the quality is very poor. The crew then leaves before the homeowner notices the poor quality.

One of the most common scams is for asphalt resurfacing, in which only a thin layer of asphalt is applied—if the material is even asphalt at all—and the scammers quickly collect their money and leave, while the asphalt begins to crack days later.

Another scam takes the form of house painting, in which the scammer uses a cheap paint that begins to deteriorate after a heavy rain.

Other forms of fraud include stopping halfway through a job, requesting payment and then never finishing. Other victims report scammers starting work on their home after only being given an estimate, with the homeowner never giving permission or agreeing to the deal. The scammer will then demand payment for the entire job, saying the homeowner is breaking the law by not paying. 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says that there are warning signs to look for if you think any contractor is illegitimate:

• The repairperson drives an unmarked truck or van with an out-of-state license.

• The worker has no business identification, local address, or telephone number.

• You are offered a "special price" if you sign today.

• The worker wants upfront cost or fees, or accepts only cash.

• No written estimates or contracts are provided.

• The worker does not have any references.

• The offer sounds "too good to be true"

• The worker cannot provide any contractor's license, permits, insurance, or bonding information.

Anyone who witnesses or has any information on these types of scams is encouraged to call the Oakland County Sheriff's Office at 9248) 858-4950.