Homeowners: Five Steps to Avoid Contractor Fraud
Each year, thousands of trusting homeowners hire contractors for home repairs or renovation projects. But for many, dreams of a remodeled kitchen, new roof or updated patio are dashed by contractor fraud.
Over half of homeowners who hire contractors state that fraud is their biggest fear, according to a recent online survey conducted for HomeAdvisor.
But savvy homeowners can avoid fraud by recognizing the warning signs and following simple hiring practices. Amy Matthews, home improvement expert and TV host, is sharing five simple steps homeowners can follow to safeguard themselves:
• Look for an established company with a permanent business location and a listed phone number: Fraudulent contractors are often “travelers” — businesses from out of the area, or contractors with no permanent business location. Making sure a contractor has a permanent business location and a listed phone number will alert homeowners to these “travelers” or other illegitimate contractors.
• Ask for a written, signed contract: Legitimate contractors will have no qualms about signing a contract and providing their business information. This simple step will typically weed out most fraudulent businesses afraid of having their scams discovered.
• Never pay with cash up front: Without cash in hand, unscrupulous contractors have few ways to pull off a scam. Never pay in full with cash before a job is started, and never pay a deposit with cash. Consider a request for a cash payment before work begins as a red flag that the contractor may be attempting to defraud.
• Ask for referrals or check reviews online: Referrals are a simple way to learn about a contractor’s track record from a friend, associate or other trusted source. Use websites like HomeAdvisor.com that offer ratings, reviews or screening services as a way to assure that a contractor has a history of honest business dealings and high-quality work.
• Use licensed contractors: A licensed contractor’s reputation is at stake when completing work.
Before hiring contractors, check with the state contractor licensing board to see if a license is required. Make sure their license is valid and there are no legal claims against the contractor.
More information about home improvement, maintenance and repair projects, including project cost guides, emergency support and pre-screened professionals, can be found at www.HomeAdvisor.com
Animals Disease Traceability Rule Takes Effect
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its new Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule earlier this year. Its main purpose is to ensure a rapid response when livestock disease events take place. The new rule is now in effect.
“There are a tremendous number of animals on the roads every day; a national program is needed to protect the entire livestock industry,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government.”
Earlier this year the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Veterinary Services published the final rule. Their mission is to protect American agriculture by helping ensure the health of livestock; this new rule is a vital component of that mission. The goal of ADT is to improve the traceability of animals that move between states involved in a disease outbreak.
The new federal traceability rule requires the State Veterinarian’s Office to meet new animal disease traceability performance standards which will increase CDA’s capabilities to respond to a significant livestock disease and ultimately help protect the Colorado livestock industry from the negative impacts of a disease outbreak.
One of the main components of the new rule involves animals travelling interstate. They must be officially identified per their species’ requirement and be accompanied by an interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) in some cases with their individual official animal identification listed. Animals travelling directly to slaughter may be identified with USDA-approved back-tags. Other terms of shipping may be agreed upon between individual states or tribes, such as acceptance of brands and owner-shipper statements. The State Veterinarian’s office recommends veterinarians contact the receiving state to ensure proper import requirements are met.
Livestock producers affected the most by the rule will be those who have cattle; other species have minimal changes to current identification standards. A summary of changes by species can be found at www.coanimalid.org.
For cattle, the following animals must be identified with official ID ear tags:
- All sexually intact cattle and bison over 18 months of age,
- All female dairy cattle of any age,
- All dairy males (intact or castrated) born after March 11, 2013, and
- Cattle and bison of any age used for rodeo, shows, exhibition, and recreational events.
- The most common official ID ear tags for cattle that will be used by producers and veterinarians are:
- 840 tags (RFID, “bangle” visual tags, or a combination RFID/bangle)
- Brucellosis or Bangs’ Tags (orange metal or orange RFID)
- Silver, “Brite” or NUES Tags (silver metal)
In high school sports over the weekend:
In girls soccer:
Rangely lost to Vail Christian 4-0
Steamboat defeated Delta 4-3
Rangely lost to Vail Mountain 5-0
In boys lacrosse:
Steamboat beat Golden 14-0
Steamboat defeated Cheyenne Mountain 9-7
In girls lacrosse:
Steamboat fell to Battle Mountain 13-5
In girls tennis:
Steamboat beat Aspen 7-0
Steamboat beat Fruita 6-1 and Air Academy 5-2
Meeker lost both games of a double header with Paonia 0-11; 4-14
Steamboat won both games of a double header with Battle Mountain 21-10; 13-3
Rangely fell in both games of a doubleheader to Hotchkiss 2-10; 4-14