Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Contractors - do you know how to protect yourself from home improvement fraud?

Most contractors do not know how to protect themselves from Indiana's Home Improvement Fraud statutes. Most refuse to talk to an attorney for fear of the costs of legal services. Instead they may face civil and/or criminal penalties. I know Indiana contractors run on narrow margins. Having narrow margins does not mean that a contractor need be lumped into the category of fraudster.

I intend to follow up this post with more details for both contractors and the general public on home improvement fraud. However, let me illustrate the problem a bit more with these items I found with Google.

A forum posting from a person who appears to have been a contractor here:

Hi- I am looking for answers with legal questions; i used to own a business in indiana Construction--15 years--i am charged with theft--due to 2-downpayments for work not started. my company has unique circumstances and is out of business as of 1997 because i havent ben able to return the money paid to start these jobs the county or state says that i stole this money simply cause i did not return the money i am since then broke and still somehow will return this money but in the meantime they are prosecuting me and i am fighting this because i believe this is maliscious prosecution of a debt that i owe and the prosecuter has turned it criminal --according to the little info i have i read a brief that the fair debt practices act says this is malicious prosecution because this is a debt and therefore falls under a civil only collection practices --does anyone know where i may find an attourney to help my fight and any idea's would help--also is this just me selfishly justifying myself or does my argument make any sense to anyone else (many factors brought about this:whether/personal) please help me i pray for someone to help me make sense of it all --may jeses bless you'All Sincerly Stan

This headline from the Anderson Herald-Bulletin: Anderson firefighter arrested on home improvement fraud charges

Finally this from Indiana's Attorney General

January 31, 2007

Court Orders Indianapolis Well Driller to Pay More than $265,000
Dee Hughes Entered into Home Improvement Contracts and Failed to Complete Jobs

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter announced today that the Marion Superior Court has ordered Miliadee Hughes, also known as Dee Hughes, to pay more than $265,000 for entering into home improvement contracts and either failing to complete the jobs or doing no work at all. The judgment is the result of a lawsuit the attorney general filed against Hughes last November and includes refunds for 9 consumers.