There's a warning to those planning on upgrading a home or business this construction season - the Better Business Bureau is warning people about an uptick in bad contractors scamming trusting customers.
Some, officials said, are even stealing the identity of a good company to get jobs and then disappears.
The Trinity-Saint Michael's Church has been standing for more than 100 years and has been providing a beautiful sanctuary for the Fairfield congregation.
But last year, that sanctuary began to leak, leaving some spots inside sopping wet.
Church members interviewed several companies and eventually ended up hiring Glen-Brook Roofers, with locations in Westport and Hartford.
Church leaders said they signed a contract for the company to fix and seal the roof and to install new gutters. The workmanship and material came with a 20-year guarantee and cost the church $4,300.
Denorris Crosby, a senior warden at the church, said the fix only lasted until Hurricane Sandy.
"The same thing happened again," he said. "We looked at it and found the gutters that he said were new were the old gutters that we already had. The wood goes around where it attaches. The gutters were rotten."
Now those same leaks and sopping wet floors were right back where they were the year before, and Glen-Brook Roofing was nowhere to be found.
"We're all really frustrated with this," Crosby said. "We have a small church and actually we really don't have the money to be spending like this."
Channel 3 Eyewitness News reporter Kim Lucey went to check out both of the listed addresses for the company, starting at 241 Main St. in Hartford.
No Glen-Brook Roofing was there.
So the next stop was in Westport, where the second location was listed.
The address was 214 Post Rd. West. The problem was there's a 212 and a 222 with no 214 in between.
Lucey then decided to give the number a call and see what would happen.
Both numbers were out of service.
The company was not registered with the secretary of the state's office or the town clerk in Hartford or Westport.
"Right away that tells you something," said Howard Schwartz, of the Better Business Bureau. "It could very well be that a contractor is going from state to state doing their scams. They set up shop, get as much money as they can and then move on. Unfortunately, once they're gone, there's no way of getting your money back."
Schwartz said they've been seeing scams like this on the increase in the past two or three years, and they're growing more sophisticated.
"We have people engaging in what we call business identity fraud, and that's really muddying the waters even more for consumers," Schwartz said. "They'll use the name of a legitimate business, large or small, to get contracting work."
Schwartz said you can't go by word of mouth anymore - you need to do your homework.
Make sure to check the following when choosing a contractor:
In addition, the business registration number should be on the company truck or business cards. Then crosscheck the information with the government and make sure they have the proper permits to do the job.
"You can't go by one reference, you can't simply call for bid," Schwartz said. "You have to verify everything."
Church leaders at Trinity-Saint Michael's said Glen-Brook Roofing answered every question they asked, but they didn't check licensing or a BBB rating and now they're stuck.
"We're going to have to repair them ourselves," Crosby said.
Crosby said the situation should serve as a warning to other consumers.
For information about the BBB, click here.
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