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The contractor agreed to put a porch ramp and deck on my parents' house. My father gave him a check for two-thirds of the job and the contractor only worked 3.5 days in the last 2 months. The contractor won't return my parents' calls.

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Good Grief. This is the type of concern I have. As a new person exploring In Home Care I feel very vulenable. Good Luck
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...Bloggers are often paid to boost site ratings and activity to make a site appear "more active'' to be more attractive to 'sell the site to advertisers who may in turn pay the site to advertise on it. Problem is, they are fake posters sparking questions or comments out of thin air .. then loyal site followers get sucked in. There are also bloggers paid to post regarding specific businesses on sites.. such as a blogger may post "I am in search of a trusted in home care company.." then another paid blogger (or the same one, depending on how many profiles the blogger may have created)  will respond to that post with a specific company name and contact info while also raving about the specific company etc. It's deceptive (we are talking hundreds of thousands who do this for a job) especially on sites such as this where people literally become invested thru a "cyber type of concern" they have gained for other legit posters who have written in... when at times it's very possible (actually probable) that if it just doesn't seem right, then most likely it's simply one person behind a keyboard creating BS who gets paid per blog or post they create by what-ever company/business or firm they blog for.
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Perhaps your are correct Tired1of4. Their profile says they care for their mother, living at home. Do they do this just to keep interest in the Agingcare site?
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... yeah they post 5 days ago and never return. Sounds like a staged blogger for the site. (Now watch, magically they'll pop back saying they lost internet or went on vacation or had an emergency)
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How about it Jlb1122? More info? Update?
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I urge the following:
#1 BBB (Better Business Bureau)
#2 Retaining an elder law attorney
#3 The attorney will, most likely, plead for a civil suit in small claims court.
#4 Make sure they don't get scammed again.
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... folks, too many variables; first of all, the poster doesn't state location, doesn't state the % of progress that the project is in (which is very important... Also poster doesn't state the age of the "parents (placing any elder abuse comments that have been made, as premature) nor does the poster mention if there's a contract or not, nor does poster mention date of estimated completion within any contract or agreement, if there is such a document, etc.  Serious problems begin, then absolutely snowballs with these public forums that can create nothing but overwhelming assumptions, and those occur when even basic information is left empty, as in this case.  This poster has left too many facts and then variables empty and ill-clarified to the degree that to even advise of future steps is irresponsible, and absolutely impossible to advise from a  trusted or accurate base. Perhaps it's a case of a family member stopped by and saw a job not finished and started jumping in without knowing the information themselves. This is why it's not always educational to even read the reply responses written to posters, because information, if not placed properly "per situation" stands strong risk to be not only inaccurate but also becomes a generalized very misinforming post(creating incorrect education)... which can be just as damaging.
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States do not all operate with the same regulations. In my state, contractors are not licensed at the state level. It is done on the local governmental level. So definitely find out how your state, city, county or township regulates contractor licenses.  A simple google search will give you this information.
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Many thanks to MaryKathleen! Many people don't know about the contractors board, which is probably why most people didn't mention it. This may also have something to do with exactly why these kinds of scams exist.  If people don't know about such a thing as a state contractors board, then yes, this kind of thing will happen, so thanks again, MaryKathleen!
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I think only one or two people mentioned the state Contractor's board. Start there. Then you can find out if they have a license, also if they don't fulfill their obligations their license can be revoked. Then if they don't have a license start doing the other stuff. Also, go to their office and find out why they haven't finished the job. Maybe someone in the hospital or something.
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I know exactly what happened and why the scammer won't return your parents calls. Your description sounds like your parents were definitely duped by a scammer. Someone else on here mentioned the possibility that this contractor may not even have a license. Ever wonder why he won't return your calls? He did something wrong and he won't take responsibility and make it right. This is why he's avoiding contact. This kind of thing is more common than you realize. If you have a full description of the vehicle and the driver, that's a good start. It would be a good idea if you got the license plate number as well as the vehicle description.

If you have that contractor's number, that's another good thing.

Now, if you have bank records where the money came out, keep it handy.

* Your next move should be a call to the APS or you can even visit them in person.
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* Keep with you all of the evidence and let the APS get copies.
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* Now your next call should be to an eldercare lawyer, then another call should be to the area BBB where this contractor came from.
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* Make a complaint and even call the Attorney General.

Sadly, things like this happen if you don't have background information on a potential employee. If the victims were contacted by the contractor, it was most likely a scammer and not a real contractor. If the contractor initiated contact, big red flag! Always do a background check on all potential employees and if they're not BBB accredited with an A+ rating, it's not a very good idea to do business with them. Let this be an expensive lesson learned, not everyone out there is honest. Crooks are out there to make a quick buck off anyone they can, and more times than not, elderly and disabled are usually easy prey (but they don't have to be). Out of the elderly and disabled, the easiest prey are those who are alone without anyone checking on them. These are the people who are the absolute most vulnerable but that doesn't have to be. It's best to wise up when you're young and keep educating yourself throughout the rest of your life so that you're up on what's going on. That way, you'll be a much harder target later if something ever does come up.
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I bet he doesn't have a contractors license. That is the first thing you have to find out. Then the BBB. If they get nowhere then a lawyer may be you best bet. If your parents can't afford it, see if there is a lawyer who works with the Office of Aging. He can write a formal letter asking for reimbursement or the job finished and done right. I would assume a township permit was gotten. If so, then the Township will need to inspect the work upon completion. I would make that a provision before the balance is paid. That the Township OK'd the work.
I have had a lot of work done and never has a contractor ask for more than half of the final cost.
Do not threaten a lawyer if you don't plan on following thru. Good Luck.
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I am sorry your parents are going through this. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad contractors out there and they give all contractors a bad reputation, in general.

We had a remodeling company for many years and dealt with the aftermath of contractors like this far too often. This should help anyone dealing with contractors. (Since you will need to hire someone to finish the job) First, always obtain a "Certificate of Insurance" from ANYONE working in your home for any reason. A/C repair, appliance repair, contractors absolutely anyone setting foot in your home! It will list their general liability, worker's comp, and bonding carriers for recourse. Do not do business with anyone that refuses to furnish this certificate. Secondly, never pay a contractor up front with the exception of materials. There is absolutely no reason for a contractor to be paid in advance for services they have not yet performed. (NEVER PAY WITH CASH!!!) They should provide you with a list of materials and the cost and ALL materials should be delivered to your property. At least if they don't finish the job you have your materials. Always get a signed contract from the contractor. This should state what services they will perform and the associated cost and how they expect to get draws throughout the job. Take photos everyday of their progress and the materials. Then, if for any reason they try to put a mechanics lien on your house, you have their contract, copies of your checks (for payment) and photos of their work to fight the lien.

Finally, to answer your question, if you don't have a signed contract or their insurance information, small claims court is your only recourse. You will spend money in an attempt to recover your loss. I personally would file a police report so you have this information on file in your county. You could also contact the county's licensing agency and see if you can file a complaint or affect their license status. FYI the BBB will not help you. IF the contractor is a member of the BBB they will give him a low score, that's it. And if he's not a member, he will not care.

Again, sorry y'all are having to go through this.
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.... to much info left out of your post to answer with any type of accuracy.
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Social media, BBB, get an attorney to put a lien on the contractor. You don't even have to go to small claims court to get the lien. That way it's attached to this jerk's name and his credit will be affected. Police won't do anything and I'm pretty sure the Elder Care Agency won't either. Lastly, be prepared that none of the money will be recouped. If it was some fly by night operation, as sometimes happens, these folks prey on people and run off with money all the time. So sad.
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I don't know where you live, but many news/media outlets have people that will go after the contractor on camera, chase them down & then pressure them---on camera---to answer why they took someone's money & didn't finish the job, didn't answer calls, disappeared, etc. Many times, the news will pursue methods of getting the money back. That may be worth a try. Sometimes having their face plastered on television is enough to get them to give the money back or finish the job. I would call the contractor and if he doesn't answer the phone I would leave a message telling him that if he didn't call back that I would be going to the media to publicize the fact that he is a crook & steals people's money, and it will inevitably kill his business because nobody wants to deal with a crook & thief.
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Your state attorney general's office should have some good information on the steps to follow. I found getting them involved early on seemed to add "teeth" to getting things moved along. And if it is fraud, they should be involved as well.
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I don't know what State you are in, but most States have laws that make elder abuse illegal. This includes financial abuse, physical, emotional, etc. I would file an Elder Abuse report with your local Department of Aging. They should notify law enforcement and they will go after the contractor. I don't know the procedure for getting the money back, but they should be able to inform you about that. You might call the contractor and tell him you will be filing this with law enforcement as it is a criminal offense and give him a deadline to return the money (very short time) or face criminal charges and jail time.
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Do your parents want the job finished, or do they want their money back? First of all, decide which.

If they want the job finished, see if you can get hold of the contractor yourself and work out a schedule. If they want their money back, you'll need to see what it says in the contractor's contract - if there was one - about time allowed for the job; and, if the contractor is in breach of the agreed terms, take it from there. If there was no contract, then again what I'd do is try to get hold of the contractor and find out what's going on - has he taken the money and run, or does he have every intention of completing the work... eventually...

In any case, I wouldn't start from the assumption that you're dealing with sharks who've intentionally cheated your parents. Delays and unexplained absences are incredibly common in the small building trade, so to avoid court costs and stress it's well worth seeing what you can do first of all to reach agreement direct.

Although, actually, another important point to consider is: did your parents decide they wanted this work done and then hire a contractor? Or did some bloke knock on their door one day and talk them into giving him money for a fantasy building project, dump a couple of sacks of cement in their yard and then clear off with their money? See what you can find out about the firm they hired.
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I would report the contractor to the Better Business Bureau, the State's Attorney, and the police. Then consult a lawyer. Theft by fraud is a criminal offense and in Illinois it is an aggravated offense if the victim is a senior.
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I'm so sorry to hear what happened to your parents. Shame on the contractor for taking advantage of the elderly. I would try escalating this through the Better Business Bureau, going to the media, or using social media to shame them. If its out and out fraud try going to the police for help. I don't know how big this company is but maybe even writing to the owner might help. I hope you are able to get some money back for your parents.
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Most states - probably all have a Contractors Board. For instance, in my state it's official title is State of Oregon Construction Contractors Board.

They do all sorts of things - including investigation of complaints. Contractors typically respond when this agency becomes involved as the contractors licence can be revoked in addition to other penalties.

Check this out before pursuing a claim in court- it could save you much time and money.
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Unfortunately you will have to take the contractor to small claims court and obtain a judgement...which doesn't guarantee you will get the money immediately or at all...you may end up chasing them for years until the court puts a lien or garnishment on them.

Angel
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