Sometimes opportunity comes knocking at your door and unfortunately so do unscrupulous contractors, roofers, landscapers and other bogus pitchmen looking to defraud consumers with their too-good-to-be-true summer deals.
The Utah Department of Commerce is reminding Utahns that door-to-door conmen will be out in force this summer like they always are. While regulators with the Utah Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) have not yet heard complaints of victims who have succumbed to unlicensed landscapers, roofers or other summertime business services, reports of such ventures are trickling in already.
Mark Steinagel, director of DOPL says the first red flag Utah consumers should look out for is a high pressure sales pitch. “The biggest thing is pressure,” Steinagel says. “They’ll have some reason like ‘I got some asphalt ready, or roofing materials or I’m only in your in neighborhood today’—some reason why the person make a decision right now and pay right now.”
Often times contractors may not even be licensed to practice, or if they are, Steinagel says a check with DOPL can see if there has been any discipline action taken against their license.
To keep the shysters from your door, DOPL recommends some simple tips:
• Ask the individual if they have a commercial solicitations permit provided by your city. Most local governments require them and the lack of one is an indicator of a questionable enterprise.
• Ask to know who their supplier is. If they are a contractor that pays their bills and run a legitimate business then their supplier should be able to vouch for them.
• Ask for references. If a pitchmen won’t take the time to refer you to happy clients and successful jobs completed it may be because they don’t have any. “Good actors are very happy for you to see their work, bad actors want you to make a decision right now,” Steinagel says.
• Make payments to the name on the contractor’s license—never to an individual.
• Always draw up a written contract with a contractor, don’t settle for a handshake and a vague agreement.
If you feel you may have been the victim of one of these summer scammers you should still contact DOPL. If the individual is licensed they can face discipline from DOPL, even if not, the department can refer charges to local prosecutors.
For more info on licensees visit DOPL’s license verification page, or call them at 801-530-6628 or toll free at 866-275-3675. Companies that have been cited for unlawful activity can also be searched for at the Utah Division of Consumer Protection’s website.