GLEN ROCK, NJ - A Glen Rock woman was scammed when an HVAC company she paid allegedly failed to fix her central air-conditioning unit.
On Aug. 12, the woman went to the police reporting she contracted with an HVAC company to replace the compressor for her central air conditioning at the price of $3,125.
The company had requested that she make the checks out to “cash”, which she agreed to, police said. The woman later came to believe that she had been overcharged for the work and had the work inspected by another contractor. This contractor informed her that they believed the original contractor had not actually replaced the compressor.
Efforts to contact the original contractor were unsuccessful.
The woman was advised of her options to sign a criminal complaint with the Glen Rock Municipal Court or to recover damages by filing a civil action in Superior Court.
Contracting scams are so common the Federal Trade Commission has an entire section of its website dedicated to helping consumers avoid them. And while this Glen Rock woman is not alone, the feeling of being scammed and out the money for work that still needs to be done is...well, awful.
To avoid such scams for any contracting work, the Federal Trade Commission suggests beginning by doing your research.
- Check with friends, neighbors, or co-workers who’ve used a contractor you are considering or might consider.
- If you can, take a look at the work done and ask about their experience.
- Look at websites you trust that post ratings and reviews
- Do people seem to have similar experiences, good or bad? You also can check out a contractor’s online reputation by searching for the company’s name with words like “scam,” “rip-off,” or “complaint.”
- Find out how long they’ve been in business.
- Look for an established company whose record and reputation you can check out.
- Check for qualifications, like licensing.
- Check with the Glen Rock Building Department to find out about licensing requirements and ask any potential contractor for the number. Check to be sure it's legitimate.
This is just for starters. While it seems like a great deal of work, it's worth it not to lose the money and to get what you pay for. In the end, while you may spend more time and some more money, you'll get the services you need.
For more information on how to hire a contractor, click here.