Consumer Alert: Beware of remodel rip-off

If you're thinking about making some long overdue repairs and improvements to your home --rather than selling it-- here's something you should know. What seems like a simple fix could leave you homeless.

"There was nothing I could do. It was nowhere for me to turn, because if you don't have money for lawyers, and you don't know who to call, I just gave up," said Joyce Love.

Joyce Love is devastated. She lost her home and nearly $70,000 in a home-repair scam.

"(I'm) very depressed, sad and just thinking that how could they do this?" said Love.

Love didn't have the cash to pay for renovations out of pocket, so refinancing her mortgage to pay for the work seemed like the perfect solution. But the pushy salesmen who lured her in kept the refinancing check for themselves.

"These guys are very charismatic, they came in acting like they were gonna help them out," said Love.

"They were convincing them to refinance their homes in order to pay for home repairs that were either never conducted or started but not finished," said Silvia Carrier, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

The scam targets elderly and single women through mass mailings, phone and door-to-door sales. civil suits filed by victims led the U.S. Attorney General's office and postal inspectors to investigate the bogus contractors.

"It's good to check and make sure a business is established with the internet," said Silvia. "You can do a Google search easily and find out if somebody's been either arrested or sued for this type of conduct."

"Education is also very important. Learn to communicate, read," said Love.

Inspectors suggest getting a second opinion whenever you are making a large decision like refinancing your home.

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