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Howard helps woman terrified by contractor

NEW JERSEY — A Passaic County woman just wanted a little home improvement. The job would cost around two or three thousand dollars. It wound up costing her a lot more.

We’re going to call her “Ann.” That’s not her real name. We’re not going to use it because she’s been through a lot.

“Ann” turned to Home Advisor to find a contractor. Home Advisor is a well-known, national business specializing in hooking up customers with the repair and building people they need.

The contractor “Ann” hired seemed nice enough. But soon he stopped showing up and sent unprepared and unskilled young men to do the work. One of them poked around online and found out the guy had done 10 years for a sex offense.

And it was a particularly diabolical offense. He targeted women by taking out ads purportedly from the women themselves. The ads said the women had a rape fantasy and they solicited men to come over and violate them.

“Ann” was terrified. She wound up having to hire someone else to undo the awful work that had been done and then do the actual job. Plus, her husband put in a new home security system.

She complained to Home Advisor. It offered to reimburse her what she’d paid the felon contractor, $1,800. But then she says the company stopped communicating with her. So, she got in touch with me.

I had trouble getting anyone on the phone at Home Advisor. Finally, I managed to speak to a real live person. I suggested the company get back in touch with “Ann” and resolve this. And, to Home Advisor’s credit, it did just that.

They came to an agreement that “Ann” can’t publicly detail. But she’s happy with it. And even more happy that Home Advisor says it’s going to examine its screening system to try to make sure they don’t unwittingly give convicted criminals any more recommendations.