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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2019 > Warm Weather Brings Out Home Improvement Scammers

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Warm Weather Brings Out Home Improvement Scammers

With warm and stormy weather comes less-than-reputable home improvement contractors who go door to door seeking your business. They may tell you they have extra materials from a nearby job and can offer a special deal because they’re already in the neighborhood. Although a few of these stories may check out, others are ploys to take your money and do little or no work.
Often, home improvement scammers will ask for large down payments. After collecting payment, some simply take the money and run, leaving homeowners with no repairs and no refund. Then they move on to another community to repeat their routine.
Last year, the Economic Crimes Unit of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was appointed by the Washington County prosecutor to handle a case against Anthony Combs, a man accused of scamming more than $200,000 from 34 homeowners in Ohio and West Virginia. Combs and his company, AMC Remodeling, offered roofing services to consumers, many of them elderly, in the Belpre area. After taking thousands of dollars, Combs failed to deliver the agreed-upon services or provide refunds. In May 2018, he was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to return $205,000 to his victims.
Follow these tips to help avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim:
  • Before signing a contract or making a payment, check a company’s reputation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. Conduct an internet search for the business and the names of individuals involved.
  • Do not make a large down payment. Instead, pay in increments – for example, one-third at the beginning of the job, one-third after half of the work is completed to your satisfaction and one-third when the job is completed.
  • Avoid paying in cash. It leaves you with a limited paper trail when something goes wrong.
  • Get any promises the contractor makes in writing.
  • Be cautious of contractors who want payment made out to themselves as individuals, instead of a company.
  • Understand that Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act provides consumers with a three-day cancellation period for most contracts signed at their own home, including many home improvement contracts. The law also applies to contracts signed at any location that is not a company’s normal place of business (such as a home improvement show).
  • Look for the red flags of a traveling scam artist. If a contractor claims to have leftover materials from a nearby job or offers unbelievably low prices, be suspicious.  
Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.