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Home improvement experts urge homeowners not to be fooled by contractor fraud on April Fools' Day

Home improvement experts urge homeowners not to be fooled by contractor fraud
on April Fools' Day

April Fools' Day signals the unofficial start to the home improvement season
and according to a recent national online survey, 69 percent of homeowners
report they are looking to spend money on home improvement projects soon

GOLDEN, Colo., April 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- via PRWEB - With warming
weather and lengthening spring days, April Fools' Day can signal the
unofficial start to home improvement season and, according to a recent
national online survey, 69 percent of homeowners report they are looking to
spend money on home improvement projects soon. But homeowners launching spring
home renovation or repair projects can be in for an unwelcome April Fools' Day
surprise --contractor fraud.

According to a recent national online survey conducted by Harris Interactive
on behalf of HomeAdvisor, a leading online destination for home repair and
improvement, more than half (52%) of those who hire contractors for home
repairs/improvements say contractor fraud is one of their biggest fears. The
survey data also indicates that seven times as many people have paid in cash
(66%) rather than financed (9%) their past home improvement projects, even
though paying a contractor cash before a project is complete is known to
increase the risk of contractor fraud. The online survey was conducted by
Harris Interactive on behalf of HomeAdvisor from March 19-21, 2013, among
2,076 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.
To help educate homeowners, Amy Matthews, television host and home improvement
expert for HomeAdvisor, offers five simple steps homeowners can follow to
safeguard themselves against being fooled on April Fools' Day:

  *Ask for a written, signed contract

Legitimate contractors will have no qualms about signing a contract and
providing their business information, but this simple step will typically weed
out most fraudulent businesses who are afraid of having their scam discovered.

  *Never pay with cash up front

Without cash in hand, unscrupulous contractors have few ways to pull off a
scam. Never pay in full with cash before a job is started, and never pay a
deposit with cash. Consider a request for a cash payment before work begins as
a red flag that the contractor may be attempting to defraud you.

  *Look for an established company with a permanent business location and a
    listed phone number

Fraudulent contractors are often "travelers" -- businesses from out of the
area, or contractors with no permanent business location. Making sure a
contractor has a permanent business location and a listed phone number will
alert you to these "travelers" or other illegitimate contractors.

  *Ask for referrals for recent projects similar to yours or check websites
    that offer ratings and reviews

Referrals are a simple way to learn about a contractor's track record from a
trusted source. Use HomeAdvisor for its ratings, reviews and screening
services as a way to assure that a contractor has a history of honest business
dealings and high-quality work.

  *Check state licensing regulations and make sure your contractor meets all
    requirements

In most states, contractors are required to have a license when completing a
job of a certain size (theses requirements differ from state to state). Before
hiring a contractor, check with the state contractor licensing board to see if
a license is required. Make sure the contractor's license is valid, and there
are no legal claims against the contractor. A licensed contractor has his
reputation, and his license, at stake when he completes work.

*69 percent of homeowners report they are looking to spend money on home
improvement projects as compared to 12 months ago

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris
Interactive on behalf of HomeAdvisor from March 19-21, 2013 among 2,076 adults
ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and
therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For
complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact The
Abbi Agency at info(at)theabbiagency(dot)com.
For more information on HomeAdvisor and its services, visit
http://www.HomeAdvisor.com. Home improvement tips and videos are available by
subscribing to the YouTube channel at http://www.YouTube.com/HomeAdvisor,
visiting http://www.Facebook.com/HomeAdvisor, and by following @HomeAdvisor on
Twitter.

About HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor is a leading website and mobile app provider offering resources
for home repair and improvement projects. HomeAdvisor's patented ProFinder
technology matches homeowner projects to the nation's largest network of over
80,000 pre-screened, customer-reviewed home improvement professionals.
Homeowners can make informed home project decisions using resources including:
Pro Reviews, featuring reviews from homeowners who have actually been
connected with the service professionals they review; Cost Guide, providing
average costs for projects coast-to-coast; Home911, offering dedicated 24/7
emergency home repair support; as well as robust home tips and project
planning tools. Access to all of the site's features is free for homeowners,
with no membership or fees required. HomeAdvisor is based in Golden, CO, and
is a subsidiary of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI).

This article was originally distributed on PRWeb. For the original version
including any supplementary images or video, visit
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10587617.htm

CONTACT: HomeAdvisor
         Brooke Gabbert
         bgabbert@homeadvisor.com
         303.963.8173