COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A warning we can't share enough: contracting scams circling our area. But why is it harder to protect yourself in Colorado?
HomeAdvisor.com uses a National Criminal Database to screen their service professionals. The company states on their website the comprehensiveness of this database is particularly limited in Colorado.
Since airing the story we wanted to release the following statement from HomeAdvisor:
“We are sorry that Ms. Dennis had a bad experience with her contractor. We’ve removed the pro from our site. We rely on feedback from our homeowners to rate our pros and have a customer solutions team dedicated to resolving disputes.” from HomeAdvisor.
So bottom line - take the screening with a grain of salt. Many of the professional listings on the site are legitimate, but don't fully trust the term "screen" to verify that.
Dawn Dennis's story
Dennis was about to start a big renovation project on her basement.
"We we're new to Colorado at the time, so we didn't know reputable contractors," she said. "So we went to HomeAdvisor because it says they screen."
She picked Jeremy Musser, of United Sheetrock and Painting LLC because his reviews seemed legit.
"He was really affordable and he went on and on about integrity and bringing it back to the business," said Dennis.
But the 'sweet talk' didn't play out as promised.
"We gave him his 50 percent deposit, and then he didn't start on the day he was supposed to," she said.
Months later some work was completed, but never finished.
"There were holes in recitals, tan lighting, dry wall was never put up or even the texture," said Dennis.
We reached out to Musser, and he said he asked for the rest of the payment.
- Over the phone -
Sierra: "Don't you think it's fair to say once you finish the job you can get the rest of the payment?
Musser: "No because they wanted to fight me...and wait until the end. That means the moneys funny...and when the money's funny I run. I'm not going to do a job for anybody who's going to refuse to pay up to what we agreed on."
It wasn't much consolation for Dennis, but it is a great example of what can happen - even when certain sites promise some level professionalism.
Note: We want to clarify, Musser has not been convicted of fraud.
Moral of the story?
Stay vigilant when it comes to your money, because as Det. Jon Price explains, it's easy to think this can't happen to you.
"People think this would never happen, but they have to remember these people work constantly to rip people off," said Price. "If they've don't it once they're likely to do it again."
If you have any doubt - ask to see a copy of the professionals license to make sure it's in compliance with county requirements.
Another tip - if you've recently hired a contractor, make sure to get everything in writing...stating exactly what's expected of both parties.
Do you have a scam you'd like us to investigate?
Contact me at Stephanie.Sierra@krdo.com
Or report it immediately to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or the city's Fraud Prevention and Detection Policy Division.