By John Morell

That magical season is here. No, not Christmas. But that special time when the weather is nice and some lucky homeowners with tax refunds jingling in their checking accounts may be thinking about splurging on some long-delayed home-improvement projects.

And of course, the scammers who want that money are buzzing around as well. The Better Business Bureau says they fielded nearly 30,000 consumer complaints against various home contractors in 2011, just a drop considering many people who get scammed either contact the police or are too embarrassed to report the incident. Here are five of the most common scams hitting our neighborhoods today:

1. The Cash Deal:
He might say it’s because of taxes or he’s got a special arrangement with his paint wholesaler, but one day you may have a painter in your kitchen telling you he’ll cut 35 percent off his estimate if you pay in cash. “It might sound like a great deal, because we all want to believe we should get a discount if we’re paying for something in cash,” says Tyler Palmer, a spokesperson for the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. “But when you’re talking about a lot of money, and about work that’s going to be done to your house, there needs to be paperwork. A deal that’s ‘under the table’ is going to hurt you if something goes wrong.” For instance, that painter may ask for the first $500 to get started and he may tell you to be ready for his crew at 8 the next morning. You’re still waiting.

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Avoid these 5 home improvement scams

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