CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two years ago, Doug Milgram became a victim of a home improvement scam. He paid $1,000 to turn an old swimming pool into a pond and wound up with a messy hole in the ground.
Milgram found All-4-You Landscaping in the phone book and thought it looked legit, but realized too late he'd been ripped off in a home improvement scam -- something the West Virginia Attorney General's office sees all too often when springtime rolls around.
"Be careful, especially with people coming to your house that you didn't call," Assistant Attorney General Doug Davis said.
Experts say the key is to do your homework. That means checking out a contractor's credentials, including whether they have a contractor's license. Also, expect a written contract for any job more than $250. And, the cardinal rule: don't pay up front.
When all else fails, use common sense.
"If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is," Davis said.
"The biggest thing is it should have hit me when he said he needed money up front and he didn't have a contract with him," Milgram said.
It was a scam Milgram can't believe he fell for.
"I got taken," he said. "I mean, it makes you feel pretty bad, especially since I'm usually up on something like this ... I can usually spot it."
It's proof that simple steps could save you from years of regret.