COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) -
As spring officially begins, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning Ohioans to be wary of solicitors who offer roofing, driveway paving, or tree trimming services and demand upfront payment.
"Spring is a good time to make home repairs, but it's also a time to watch for scams," DeWine said. "If someone comes to your door offering goods or services, ask for references and take time to think about it. If they pressure you or demand large upfront payments, it could be a scam. Be very careful before handing over your money."
In 2014, the Ohio Attorney General's Office received more than 2,500 complaints about household goods or property improvement. The office also filed 14 civil lawsuits and pursued several criminal cases involving home improvement.
To help Ohioans protect themselves, DeWine encourages consumers to look for signs of a potential home repair scam, including:
• Requests for a large down payment. If you have to pay half or more of the total price in advance, be skeptical. Scam artists often try to pressure consumers to make large down payments before any work is started.
• Requests for cash payment. Be wary if you are told you must pay in cash versus other forms of payment. If something goes wrong, it will be difficult to recover cash payments.
• No notice of your right to cancel. In Ohio, consumers generally have a three-day right to cancel a contract that results from a door-to-door sale. Under the Home Solicitation Sales Act, sellers are required to notify consumers about this right.
• Work that will begin immediately. If someone offers to perform work on your home right away, be skeptical. Some traveling scam artists claim they have leftover materials or that they "just happened to be in the neighborhood," but after taking consumers' payments, they leave without doing any work or after doing a poor job.
• No written contract or references. If a contractor won't provide you with a written contract detailing the costs, the work to be done, and the start and end dates, consider doing business with someone else. Also be skeptical if a contractor refuses to provide references of past customers.
Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 800-282-0515.