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Home Equity Theft Through Contractors Still a Problem

Using the equity in your home to upgrade or improve the home itself is one of the most popular reasons for taking out a home equity loan. With some improvements, the value of the property increases by almost as much as the cost of the remodeling itself. That, combined with the fact that the interest on a home equity loan is deductible from Federal income tax, makes using home equity for improvements a smart idea. Unfortunately, some contractors see this idea as a great way for them to get a financial windfall at the expense of the homeowner. A classic scam involving home remodeling is still proving to be quite popular. Usually, when people want to remodel their home, they seek out a contractor and they seek out a lender to provide financing.

In this financial scam, the contractors solicit customers and tell them that they can provide the financing themselves at competitive rates. The victims are usually taken in by the contractor's offer of being able to do it all. Unfortunately, a number of bad things often happen once the customer accepts the deal: Expensive loan - The contractor does provide the financing, but the loan turns out to have terms that are not favorable. This may include sky-high interest rates, high fees and a long term of repayment. Poorly done work - The contractor, having arranged the poor financing described above, then hires a subcontractor to do the work.

This often results in shoddy work or no work at all. And all too often, the contractor seems to disappear. Outright theft - In the worst-case scenario, the loan turns out not to be a loan at all. The owner signs the "loan documents" only to find out that they have actually signed the property over to the contractor. The people who conduct such crimes often do so by taking advantage of minorities, working in communities where the residents are less educated or less likely to understand the terms of the documents. The victims are often too embarrassed to notify the authorities, so the criminals frequently get away. Anyone who is considering having some home remodeling done should seek out a qualified contractor themselves, rather than accepting an offer from someone who knocks on the door. In addition, the homeowner should seek references in order to verify that the contractor delivers as promised. A little caution can go a long way, especially if the alternative is losing your home.


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