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Fraud Leaving Home-Owners High And Dry


Fraud Leaving Home-Owners High and Dry

You have done house painting in the Bay Area for some time, and you realize you cannot rely on your own experience (or a lack thereof). Now, you have decided that it is time to ditch the DIY and hire a professional to paint your home. 

Whether or not it is your first time looking for professional service, the last thing you will ever have to worry about is whether the company you are eyeing to hire for is legitimate. 

You are not alone in your fears. Many customers have been scammed by so-called painting contractors, who turn out to be con men. Unfortunately, these incidents have increased. Workmen absconded with the advance payment have left some “tools” in your garage or basement to get started. So-called contractors who, once you’ve signed the dotted line, switch to painting your home only once a week, which drags the job out. And, of course, some contractors just get the job wrong.

There’s no reason to take chances, if you’re looking to hire house painters near you. Too many customers have fallen victim to so-called “painting contractors,” tricking them into shelling out large sums of money and leaving their homes much worse than when painters started the project. 

Common painting contractor red flags to avoid

Too many people have been lured into the traps of these scammers. Keep an eye out for these signs that indicate you might be dealing with a bogus contractor:

  • Refusal to provide a license – Professional painting contractors should always have valid and updated licenses. In California, hiring an unlicensed painting contractor means entering an illegal contract – and you can get yourself in trouble. If a contractor refuses to show your license,  avoid them and look elsewhere.
  • Asking for the full payment up-front – When the contractor asks you for large sums of money upfront, you should stop your dealings with them right away. They could easily take your money, run off, and never show up again.
  • Refusal to provide a contract or lack of details in the contract – If a contractor is hesitant to provide a contract, your project can easily turn into a disaster. Or if a contractor does provide a contract but would not include all the details, it might be a sneaky way for them to charge hidden fees. Some so-called contractors make mere verbal promises but refuse to complete all tasks agreed upon. Avoid these contractors.
  • Estimate that’s too low – When it comes to hiring contractors, customers tend to prefer the ones who offer the cheapest estimate. After all, who isn’t attracted by low prices? But it sounds too good to be true. An estimate that’s too low means you might not be getting the proper painting service and quality results you’re looking for. When a contractor offers the lowest estimate, they are probably only after your money. An estimate that’s too low might also mean that contractors want to reduce costs and try to avoid paying expenses that are essential for a good house paint job.
  • Low-quality materials and products – If the painting contractor offers a too-low estimate, it might mean that they are using inferior materials and products. If you don’t recognize the brands these contractors are using or think that any of the materials look subpar, do not allow them to lay a finger on your house.
  • Lack of insurance and other qualification credentials – Reputable painting contractors have proper credentials, such as general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. Anyone vying for your job should provide proof that they are bonded and insured. Otherwise, contractors who lack such credentials also lack accountability. If something goes wrong with the project or one of the workers gets injured while painting your home, you are liable to pay for the damaged or lost property or shoulder the workers’ medical expenses. The workers may even sue you! The main benefit of hiring bonded and licensed painters is to give you peace of mind, knowing that you are working with a reputable painting service company that will complete the job successfully.

So, what’s a homeowner to do?

To avoid becoming the next victim of professional painting scams, make sure that the contractor is legal. Check the contractor’s license to see if it is valid and updated. Proof of a valid license alone is a sure way to confirm that you are working with a legitimate contractor.

The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is your first line of defense against fraudulent contractors and construction scams. The agency will help you confirm the validity of a contractor’s license.

There are a couple of ways to confirm whether the contractor is registered:

Option 1: Go to California Contractors State License Board’s website at https://www.cslb.ca.gov/.

  1. On the left side of the website, click on “check a license” or “HIS registration.”
  2. From the next window, you will be able to view the License Status, Liability Insurance, Workman Comp Insurance, and Bond Company.

Option 2: Call CSLB through these numbers: 800-321-2752. It allows you to confirm the contractor’s license using an automated voice system.

  1. Press the number “1” on your phone. This will allow you to check the history and validity of a contractor’s license.
  2. Press the number “1” again. Next, enter the contractor’s license number. A license should consist of all numbers only, not a combination of numbers, letters, and/or symbols.
  3. Review the license information provided. CSLB’s automated system will share the same contractor license history available on its website.

Option 3: In case you do not know the contractor’s license number, speak with an agent. 

  1. On your phone, press “2,” then “9,” to transfer your call to an actual agent who can answer your queries during business hours, Monday through Friday.

An informed customer is the best customer!

Be an informed customer. If you’re hiring a painting contractor, ensure he is on the right side of the law. It will save you time, money, and, most of all, trouble. Do not be fooled by contractors who try to convince you that custom painting jobs can only be done by fly-by-night contractors. Speak to companies like Custom Painting, Inc. that have served the Bay Area for over 40 years and get the full range of painting services, including custom and specialty jobs.

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