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Home improvement scams: What the Better Business Bureau wants you to know

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SUPERIOR, WI-- The spring weather means it's the perfect time of year to get down and dirty remodeling your home or taking on a new improvement project.

It also means scam artists are lurking in the neighborhood, waiting to take advantage of people needing a hand.

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau said scammers usually approach homeowners between March and October.

Nick Olson, President and CEO of Andersen and Hammack, said you should do you your research before letting a contractor into your home.

"The main thing to do is go on the Minnesota Department of Labor website or the Wisconsin Public Safety website and just make sure they're licensed," said Olson.

Officials at the BBB say never pay with cash and always trust your gut.

"Always try to pay with a credit card, say no to cash only deals," said Lisa Schiller, Investigations and Media Relations Director for the Wisconsin BBB. "Say no to any high-pressure sales tactic, do not fall for high up-front payment requests."

Olson said construction companies will ask you to sign a contract, as it's in everyone's best interest.

"To make sure everyone's on the same page," he said. "And to make sure what's being done is spelled out so that the customer and the contractor knows what's going to take place. It's really for both party's benefit."

Also, not being able to communicate with your contractor or business can be a red flag as to whether it's a scam.

"I think if people are answering their phone call or you know where to find them if they have a business address," said Olson. "That's the biggest thing. If they stop answering the phone call and you haven't signed anything I don't think that is a road you want to go down."

Olson and experts with the BBB suggest getting three estimates from different businesses before picking a contractor.

That should help you get an idea of what the average price of your project should look like.

BBB officials said if there's a specific remodeling project you have in mind, you're looking for look for contractors and businesses that specialize in that area of work.

The Better Business Bureau reports people impacted by home improvement scams lost on average more than $1,000 dollars each in 2020.

In years past, these types of scams made the BBB's top 10 complaints list, but did not in 2020.

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Emma Quinn

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