New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

News Release

For Immediate Release
March 10, 2022

Warren G. Cormack, Attorney | (603) 271-1196

Consumer Alert – Attorney General Encourages the Public to Take Steps to Protect Themselves Against Home Improvement Scams in Recognition of National Consumer Protection Week

Concord, NH – Attorney General John M. Formella announces that, in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week (March 6 through March 12), the New Hampshire Department of Justice is issuing a series of consumer alerts to inform the public of the most common consumer protection issues reported in New Hampshire. This consumer alert will inform consumers about home improvement scams and provide tips for consumers to avoid being victimized by contractors.

As spring approaches, many New Hampshire residents will be looking to engage the services of home contractors to perform home improvement projects. Although New Hampshire is home to many reputable and hard-working home contractors, home improvement scams are one of the most common issues reported to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office. In New Hampshire, contractors do not need to be licensed, and fraudsters may represent themselves to be reputable contractors in order to take homeowners' money. Consumers have reported that contractors have taken deposits or down payments without completing any agreed-upon work, stopped communicating with the consumer after collecting a deposit, and gone door-to-door rushing consumers into purchasing expensive, substandard work.

Attorney General John M. Formella warns consumers to be on the lookout for the following warning signs if they are engaging with a home contractor:

  • The contractor solicits work in person. Often, the contractor says they "just happened to be in the neighborhood," "were working in the area," or "noticed that your home needed repairs."
  • The contractor arrives in an unmarked vehicle, is from far away, or arrives without much equipment.
  • The contractor does not allow time for other estimates. Sometimes the contractor will say they cannot come back another time.
  • The contractor will not provide an address and telephone number, or the contractor provides an address that is a post office box or temporary address.
  • The contractor asks for a down payment that is over 50% of the final cost, or asks for full payment before the job is completed.
  • The contractor offers a price that is far below other offers. The contractor may justify this price by saying a project will serve as a "model" or that the contractor can use materials left over from another job. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • The contractor will only accept payment by Zelle, Venmo, or other electronic money transfer service.
  • The contractor insists on being paid in cash.
  • The contractor says that they are able to do electrical work, inspections, plumbing, septic, well pump work, asbestos abatement, or lead abatement without a license.
  • The contractor's work proposal lacks details.

Attorney General John M. Formella offers the following advice for consumers looking to hire a home contractor:

  • Remember that honest contractors earn the majority of their business through referrals from satisfied customers. They don't have to travel door-to-door to find business or rush consumers into projects.
  • Seek out at least three written, itemized estimates when planning a home repair or improvement project. Ask contractors to justify their estimates by listing the work and materials included.
  • Research each contractor. Ask for references from past jobs and suppliers the contractor uses. Ask each contractor for proof of insurance. Check each contractor's address.
  • Always have a written contract before any work is done or any payment made. Inspect contract terms carefully before signing and agreeing to any offer. Ensure that the contract includes a detailed scope of work, including the work to be done, the materials to be used, the total price for the job, and the schedule of payments.
  • Do not pay using an electronic payment app such as "Zelle," or "Venmo." Never agree to a cash-only deal.

To report concerns about a home improvement scam:

  • Contact the local police.
  • File a complaint with the New Hampshire Department of Justice

    Consumer Protection Bureau
    Office of the Attorney General
    33 Capitol St.
    Concord, NH 03301
    Consumer Protection Hotline: 1-888-468-4454
    Online Complaint Form:

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau for information on contractors.

    Better Business Bureau
    48 Pleasant St.
    Concord, NH 03301

New Hampshire Department of Justice
1 Granite Place South | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658