Auto & Home Repair Fraud
 

 

Your home and automobile are two of your most important investments. Protect them by choosing a trustworthy repair professional.

 

Take your time and do your research. If someone is pressuring you into making a quick decision, tell them you need time to think about it and then leave the situation. Be wary of strangers who stop by your house and offer to fix something. Never accept an offer to take you to the bank to withdraw money for any reason.

 

Steps you can take to prevent auto repair fraud 

 

Choosing an auto repair business:

  • Start shopping for an auto repair business before you need one.
  • Ask friends for their recommendations.
  • Look online to find businesses that have many good reviews from customers. Read the reviews.
  • Motor vehicle repair shops in Florida are required to register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Call the Department at 1-800-HELP-FLA or visit www.800helpfla.com. Give them the name of any auto repair businesses you are interested in, and ask how many complaints have been filed against the business. Then, ask how the complaints were resolved.
  • Ask the business to give you contact information for some past customers, so you can ask them about their experience.
  • Ask how often the business works with your make and model of vehicle.
  • Ask how often the business handles the type of repair you need.
  • Make sure that you know what damages are (or are not) covered by your auto insurance policy.

Before you agree to do any repairs:

  • Always ask for a written estimate.
  • Ask the repair business to call you before making  any repairs, if the cost will be more than the written estimate.  
  • Discuss the rates, diagnostic fees, quality guarantees, methods of payment, and any other important issues before agreeing to anything.
  • If you do not know for sure whether you need a repair, or if something feels wrong about the situation, get a second opinion.
  • This is especially important if the suggested repair is expensive, or if you are not sure what is wrong with the vehicle.
  • Compare estimates carefully. The lowest price is not always the best. It may end up actually costing you more over time, if the repair is done incorrectly.
  • Take photos of any damage, for your records.
  • Keep all receipts for insurance purposes.
Steps you can take to prevent home repair or construction fraud 

Choosing a home repair or construction business:

  • Start shopping for a home repair business before you need one.
  • Ask friends for their recommendations.
  • Look online to find businesses that have many good reviews from customers. Read the reviews.
  • Look up businesses’ or contractors’ names on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s website, www.myfloridalicense.com. You can see whether they have current licenses to do the kind of work you need.
  • In Florida, an unlicensed “handyman” cannot legally perform any job valued at more than $1,000.  Contact your local building department before hiring someone who is unlicensed.
  • Ask the business to give you contact information for some past customers, so you can ask them about their experience.
  • Ask how often the business handles the type of home repair or construction project you need.
  • Make sure that you know what damages are (or are not) covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Before you agree to do any repairs:

  • Always ask for a written estimate.
  • Ask the contractor to call you before making any repairs, if the cost will be more than the written estimate.
  • Discuss the rates, diagnostic fees, quality guarantees, methods of payment, and any other important issues before agreeing to anything.
  • If you do not know for sure whether you need a repair, or if something feels wrong about the situation, get a second opinion.
  • This is especially important if the suggested repair is expensive, or if you are not sure what is wrong with the home.
  • Compare estimates carefully. The lowest bid or price is not always the best. It may end up actually costing you more over time, if the repair is done incorrectly.
  • Never agree to get your own permits. That will make you directly responsible for any problems.
  • Take photos of any damage, for your records.
  • Keep all receipts for insurance purposes.
  • If you suspect something is wrong, report it to the police right away. Then, call the Elder Rights Center at (561) 684-5885 for help reporting the fraud to other agencies.

 

Resources

 

 

Questions? Need help? Please call (561) 684-5885 and press option 3 to leave a voicemail for our Elder Rights Center. We check our voicemail daily and will respond to you as quickly as possible

 

 

 

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