Don’t fall victim to home-improvement scams, warns Better Business Bureau

For anyone thinking of home renovations, the Better Business Bureau is recommending citizens to use caution when hiring a contractor for home improvements.

Home improvement scams in 2020 placed third on the Better Business Bureau’s annual Scam Tracker Canadian Risk Report. The report used a three-dimensional approach to measuring scams: exposure, susceptibility and monetary loss.

According to the BBB, home-improvement scams had a low exposure rate of just 2.9 per cent, but the susceptibility rate was high at 73.9 per cent, with consumers losing a median average of $1,000.

The top two scams, respectively, were the advance-fee loan and online purchases.

Like home-improvement scams, advance-fee loans had a low public exposure rate at 6.2 per cent but a high susceptibility rate of 71.1 per cent. The average loss was $1,400.

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Online purchases had a much higher public exposure rate at 33.7 per cent, and a high susceptibility rate at 75.4 per cent. However, the average median loss was much smaller at $116.

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The BBB says home-improvement scams often see fraudsters acting as contractors to offer low prices or a short time frame to do renovations. The fake contractors use high-pressure sales tactics and ask for money upfront to manipulate victims.

“Home improvement scams can start with a knock on the door, a flyer or an ad. Sometimes the scammers are lurking outside home improvement stores and in other instances, they have set up fake websites and business accounts on social media,” the BBB said.

“The con artists find plausible reasons for consumers to give them money and will either deliver shoddy work or no work at all.”

Citizens across Canada reported losing thousands of dollars in home-reno-related scams last year.

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According to the BBB, one victim in Nanaimo lost $18,000 to a home improvement scam.

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Tips from the BBB to avoid home-improvement scams include:

  • Research and gather information
  • Say no to cash deals and high-pressure sales tactics
  • Search for the contractor’s business at
  • Ask for references and check them out
  • Avoid cutting corners.

“Hire the right one (contractor) and you can relax knowing that your project is in good hands,” said BBB spokesperson Karla Laird.

“Hire the wrong one and you could be facing a wide range of problems from unfinished work and damage to your property, to losing valuable time and thousands of dollars.”

For more information on the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, on the Better Business Bureau website.

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