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Florida attorney general investigating home improvement company

Ten South Florida residents have filed complaints with the state attorney general's office against a large home improvement provider.

The residents contend they were misled about the purchase price of things such as air conditioners and maintenance agreements, as well as the options they had to pay for them. Because they dispute the charges, at least three homeowners have been targeted for foreclosure by the company, seeking the money officials say they are owed.

The attorney general's office confirmed that it is looking into the allegations. Florida law enforcement agents recently were seen removing documents and other items from the contractor's trucks and corporate offices in Bonita Springs.

The company is still doing business as the investigation goes on.

The residents' complaints also include allegations of poor workmanship, high-pressure sales tactics, unnecessary work being performed and overcharges. Additionally, some contend company staff members have forged customer signatures on things such as loan agreements to pay for the work.

One of the women who hired the company said she heard one of its ads on the radio that detailed a special financing option offered by local governments. It was the homeowner's understanding that she could pay for her home upgrade through an assessment on her property taxes. It was her understanding that she would be taxed $180 per year for 20 years.

She said that last summer, she signed an electronic document that she believed would allow the company to see if she qualified for the government-backed loan. Instead, she said, she actually signed up for a loan, she said. The lender explained the terms of the loan in a follow-up call, and she learned that they were vastly different from what she believed they would be. The financing company let her back out of the deal.

Now, she is on the hook for nearly $23,000 for an air conditioner and service agreement, and the company is seeking to foreclose on her home. She said the amount was far more than she anticipated.

She is just one of the people who has told their story to the media and to authorities.

It is always wise to shop around and get multiple estimates for home repairs or improvements, as well as to check references. And if there is any confusion about contract terms, an attorney who works with real estate or construction cases can assist by reviewing the contract.

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