Contractor Fraud Alert

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh says he's seen more flyers at his door for home improvement, than ever before. And he's not alone. Law enforcers expect a record number of fraud complaints, because more people are offering services, and more homeowners are looking for 'bargains.' Juanita Williams, who handles consumer fraud for the NY Attorney General's office in Syracuse, says to be careful of people who tell you they've just worked for neighbors. Sheriff Walsh says you should always check references--beyond just calling the number the contractor offers. Williams says you can also check if there are complaints against contractors-- is the site. You can also file complaints at, or at 1-800-771-7755 (the Syracuse office is at 448-4800) Other ways to make sure you get what you expect: get a written contract. Never pay in advance. Sheriff Walsh advises no more than a third up front, if a deposit is required---even a reputable company can run into money trouble. More tips: make sure that the people doing the work are not just 'borrowing' their employer's supplies and good name. Also, with more people looking to second jobs to make ends meet, make sure the person doing the work is insured for the job you want him or her to do.