Whether your home is new or old, one day you will have to deal with the electrical wiring or installations inside it. If it’s just replacing a faulty light bulb in one of your rooms, you will definitely cope with the task on your own. If it’s something more serious, though, like connecting wires to circuit breakers and then testing that everything functions as it should, seeking the help of a professional electrician is unavoidable. Finding someone to solve electrical problems in your house or apartment is not that hard: the Internet is full of ads for any type of job imaginable. The real challenge is to hire a reputable specialist with the right qualifications and no aim to deceive you. While there are many companies and individuals worthy of trust on the job market, con artists are not rare either. Is it possible to identify a scam? It is. Just watch for these pointers.
1. Advance payment
This is one of the surest signs that the service provider you’ve hired is a scam. You will never come across an electrician of good repute who asks you to cover the whole cost of the project before lifting a finger. Well-respected professionals work with companies that take care of procuring the necessary working materials. So, they don’t need more than a small initial deposit from you to see that you’re serious about your intentions. Requesting 20% and above should put you on alert. What if the electrician merely vanishes after stuffing your money in his or her pocket?
2. Cash only, no receipt
Another indication you’re dealing with someone who is not quite honest is the demand to be paid in cash only. A real entrepreneur has a bank account and pays taxes. Only con artists take cash and don’t leave receipts in order to avoid any financial trail. If something goes awry and you request your money back, you won’t be able to prove you did give it to the electrician. Never consider estimates that say only cash payment is allowed.
3. Abnormally low initial price tag
A low cost of work that frauds quote means several things.
- They may be using non-standard equipment or fixtures and fittings. That may cause a fire or damage to your property.
- They may be trying to increase the cost as the work progresses. They will tell you that the problem turned out to be very serious and therefore you will have to pay them more, although that is not true. In the end, the figure in the final bill will knock you off your feet.
Reputable electricians have to charge their customers more because they have to cover their insurance costs and other essential things like all law-abiding business people do. So, don’t let a cheap estimate mislead you. Always seek a second opinion.
4. No proper contractor-customer communication
Electricians know a great many complicated specialized terms. The difference between scams and reputable specialists, though, lies in the way they use those words.
- Con artists don’t bother about explaining what they mean in the for-mere-mortals language. Their aim is to bombard you with phrases and notions you’ve never heard before and will hardly hear again and then produce a hefty estimate. In addition, they don’t write anything down, limiting themselves to purely verbal discussion.
- Real professionals will always explain an unfamiliar term in plain English and go over each and every item in the estimate they have written in detail.
5. Complete rewiring and side jobs
You may also understand that you have a scam before you if the electrician stuns you by saying you need to completely rewire your house. The truth is that strict modern electrical standards ensure 100% safety of residents. Even houses built quite a while ago when ungrounded outlets were the norm may do without the entire replacement of the old wires with new ones. Thus, what scams want is simply pull more dollars out of your wallet. Make sure you ask another specialist to give their opinion whether rewiring is actually required.
Dishonest “professionals” may also offer you services that have nothing to do with electricity such as plumbing or snow removal. As the saying goes, “Jack of all trades is master of none.”
6. No insurance or electrician license number
Being licensed and insured is very important for an electrician who is constantly under the risk of electrocution. So, ask the specialist to produce a copy of their license or at least give you their license number. Each state has its own requirements for electricians. More on that read here or here.
Insurance is essential, too. Suppose the service provider is injured while on the job. Then, you’ll be held liable. The insurance company will reject your claim if it discovers that the operations were performed by someone without a license. So, ask the electrician to give you their insurance details before you strike a deal.
7. Only email
If the ad only mentions an email for contacting the provider, think twice. A reputable specialist provides a landline phone number and a physical address. Then, you can always find him or her whatever happens.
Those are just the most conspicuous signs that you’ve run into a scam. A trustworthy electrician has a proper education, knows about the latest updates to the National Electrical Code, gives a warranty for their work, and can present references from their previous customers. We recommend searching for someone to tackle your electricity issues beforehand. Then, you will know for sure that you won’t have to overpay and your house and family will be safe and sound.