Home Improvement Service Provider Fraud
Certain actions by home improvement services providers may constitute an offense. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-14-154 it is an offense for a home improvement services provider with intent to defraud to:
Fail to refund amounts paid under a contract for home improvement services within ten days of:
- The acceptance of a written request for a refund either hand delivered or mailed certified mail return receipt attached;
- The refusal to accept the certified mail sent to the last known address of the home improvement services provider by the residential owner; or
- The return of the certified letter to the residential owner indicating the addressee is unknown or similar designation
- No substantial portion of the contracted work has been performed at the time of the request; and
- More than ninety days have elapsed since the starting date of the contract for home improvement services; and
- A copy of the written request for a refund was sent by the residential owner to the consumer protection division of the office of the state attorney general
Deviate from or disregard plans of specifications in any material respect that are contained in a contract for home improvement services including:
- Amount billed is substantially greater than the amount quoted in the contract; or
- Materials used in the project are of substandard quality but the residential owner was charged for higher quality materials; or
- Residential owner did not provide written consent for the home improvement services provider to deviate from or disregard plans or specifications in the contract and the deviation or disregard caused substantial damage to the residential owner’s property
Residential Owner Responsibilities
- Keep copies of all documents and correspondence
- After ninety days have elapsed if no substantial portion of the work has been performed, hand deliver or send by certified mail with return receipt requested a written request for a refund to the home improvement services provider
- Also send a copy of the written refund request by certified mail return receipt requested to:
Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Tennessee Attorney General
P.O. Box 20207
Nashville, TN 37202
- Ten days after the request letter has been received or refused to be accepted by the home improvement services provider, the residential owner may contact the Knoxville Police Department if the residence is within the city limits or the Knox County Sheriff’s Office if the residence is outside the city limits within Knox County to file a report.
- The Knoxville Police Department or Knox County Sheriff’s Office will determine if the complaint constitutes an offense and conduct an investigation.
- At the conclusion of the investigation the results will be presented to the District Attorney’s Office to determine if prosecution is warranted.
Many issues with home improvement services are civil in nature and do not rise to the level of a criminal offense. A residential owner is encouraged to consult with a private attorney if the issue cannot be resolved with the service provider.