In a perfect world, quality of work would be the only consideration in hiring a contractor to paint your home. Sadly, we do not live in that perfect world, and it is imperative that you protect yourself against fraud. The kindest, most charming individual could very well be a bad guy trying to scam you. Fortunately, there are some smart tricks and practices you can use to prevent yourself from being a victim.
Before a contracted painter can operate, he or she must be properly licensed (where applicable) and must be verified as a business with the state in which they do business. You can find this information on your state’s department of labor website. Depending on your state’s laws, the painter may or may not be required to have a license, so be sure to verify the law on that before performing your search. By verifying the painter as a business, you will know if the company exists legally and whether it is active. If you find that one of these criterion is not valid, it’s a red flag for possible fraud.
Even if a contracted painter seems to be operating a business legally, there may be unfavorable incidents in their past that you would want to know about. Many people find it necessary to perform background checks on any type of contractor before hiring them. Again, depending on what state you live in, the laws may vary on the extent to which one’s personal or criminal background may be searched. Still, some find it safer to know as much as possible about the individuals who will be in their home and be paid large sums of money. The Better Business Bureau is also effective for finding information on a business. There could be hidden information about the contractor that will save you the danger of a scam.
The good news is that there are many signs that you can watch for that may tip you off to a scam artist. For example, it is never wise to hire someone who solicits from door-to-door. This method of advertising, as well as discounts for friend referrals, probably means that their operation is not the least bit legitimate. Likewise, if a business is not listed in the phonebook or does not appear in a search engine, their background may be questionable. Also, when negotiating prices, a surprisingly low quote could mean bad news. It’s still true that you get what you pay for. Payment arrangements are usually a helpful sign as well. If the contractor requires the entire payment up front or accepts cash only, you may want to continue on your search. A valid business has the proper financial channels in place to operate its business.
An exciting home painting project can quickly turn into heartbreak and financial devastation if one is susceptible to a scam artist. It’s simply not enough to trust the word of a potential contracted painter. You’ll thank yourself later for playing it safe by exercising caution now.