12 Tips on How to Avoid Con Artist Tricks

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con artist tricksHome improvement can be fun, beautify your surroundings and give you a real sense of personal accomplishment. It can be expensive, but if you budget right and do the jobs when you’re ready to afford them, it needn’t be a hardship. However, the unfortunate truth is, where ever there’s a lot of money to be made, there will be unethical people looking to take advantage of those not adequately prepared or cautious. Here are some suggestions of signs of a con artist that you should be on guard for so you can enjoy the pleasures of home improvement without succumbing to con artist scams.

12 Tips on How to Avoid Con Artist Tricks

1. All out of “free lunch”: Don’t believe in something-for-nothing offers. They’re appealing to our worst nature. We all want to get the great deal, but it’s that desire and its associated will to suspend disbelief that does us in. In this life you usually get what you pay for.

2. Turn Down the Pressure: If someone is giving you a high-pressure sales pitch the reason might only be commission anxiety, but they be could trying to pull a fast one. The best high pressure sellers do it in such a way that you might not even at first realize it. Once you have a suspicion, though, step back and reconsider what’s going on. This leads directly to point 3.

3. What’s the Rush? Take your time before you lay out a lot of money on any purchase. Being rushed is often a sign of high pressure sales tactics and they are often a sign of something fishy. Don’t turn over your money unless you’re both comfortable and confident. (Don’t try and block out that nagging little inner voice of warning.)

4. The dotted line: A handshake among trusted associates may well be the way to go, but if you’re hiring or buying from a stranger, be sure to get it all in writing. If anyone doesn’t want to put their John Hancock to back their handshake, your warning bells should be ringing. Additionally, insist that agreements be in plain English and not legalese.

5. The Small Type too: Nowadays we’re so accustom to various terms of use agreements that many of us are in the habit of not even reading them before checking the “agree” box and hitting “continue.” However, any financial outlay that could be even a modest burden to your finances cannot be treated this way. Read all contracts and agreements before signing. If you consider the outlay a significant burden or if you have any doubts at all about the seller, be sure to have a lawyer examine it. This is a good idea for all major contracts.

6. Special deal for you, my friend: I’m sure you’re swell and all, but, really, how many people are so impressed with you that they’ll take a loss to do you some work or sell you some products? Are you sure it won’t be you taking the loss?

7. I was just passing by: If they just happened to be in the neighborhood that’s pretty convenient. But, is it convenient for you or for them? Professionals with a well served customer base tend to be busy. Be cautious of coincidences.

8. The Greatest Hits: The most common home improvement frauds apparently are roof repair and painting, driveway sealing, and termite inspection. Be doubly sure about the reliability and credentials of those you hire for these jobs.

9. Safety in numbers: Get multiple estimates and compare prices and terms for any product or service you’re considering buying. Ask in advance if you’ll be charged for the estimate.

10. Ask and Act: It’s always good to ask for references before doing business with someone, but the references are pretty much worthless if you don’t actually check them!

11. Flash the badge: All officials sent to your home for official purposes, either from the municipality or private utility provider, should have official identification. Ask to see it. If they can’t provide it, no matter what the explanation, don’t allow them in until you phone the head office. Look the number up yourself — don’t use one they conveniently offer you to call.

12. Get the Good Word: There are a number of organizations that serve as gatekeepers and credibility filters, such as Consumer Affairs offices and Better Business Bureaus. Before entering into any major contract, check with them to get some information on the seller.

Don’t let your home improvement dreams be ruined by con artist tricks. I hope these tips on the signs of a con artist help you avoid annoying and costly con artist scams.


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