PORTLAND – Unlicensed contractors have been targeting homeowners around the Portland Metro Area.
Fern Mathews found out the hard way. She says a group of contractors showed up at her house, offering to re-pave her driveway.
The contractors agreed to $1,500 for the work, because they said they had leftover materials from another job.
“He said, ‘We were going to do a job right over here, but they’re not here so we’ve got enough pavement,’” Mathews said.
But the contractors changed the price after the work began. Suddenly, they demanded thousands of dollars more.
“Wait a minute, we told you we only had $1,500,” Mathews told the men she only had $1,500, but they said they asked for $4,000.
She agreed to pay them $3,200. Then, they were gone.
Now, Estacada police are investigating the incident.
Eric McLauchlin, an investigator with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board, said the workers were not licensed, bonded or insured. He said this isn’t the first time he’s seen this scam.
“They'll offer low prices in the beginning and then increase it by huge amounts,” he said.
Police say arrests are likely.
But homeowners should be on the lookout for unlicensed contractors to avoid getting ripped off.
Experts say there are tell-tale signs. First, the unlicensed workers will simply show up unannounced at your home. Licensed contractors will not.
An unlicensed contractor will sometimes have out-of-state license plates and say they have “leftover” material from previous jobs that will result in you getting a great price.
Once they start the project, their prices almost always go up dramatically.
Although Mathews was scammed, she did follow the scammers to a local hotel where she wrote down their vehicle license plate numbers.
The police are now tracking the scammers and they say arrests are likely.