The Attorney General is reminding Ohioans to be aware of contractors offering to fix homes after the big storms this week.
In a news release on Thursday, Mike DeWine said the storms could bring out contracting scammers.
“Traveling contractors may try to take advantage of homeowners who experienced collapsed roofs, downed trees, or other damage,” DeWine said. “As repairs continue, we encourage Ohioans to watch out for fly-by-night contractors who make promising claims but do little or no work.”
Some contractors visit people at their homes, offer their services to fix the damage, and claim they can complete the work immediately.
The AG’s Office says the scammers may ask for a large down payment or tell consumers to sign over their insurance check, but end up doing little to no work.
DeWine offered Ohioans a few tips to protect themselves:
• Research a home improvement contractor before signing any contract. Obtain the name, address, and phone number of any contractor agreeing to do work for you. Ask for identification from the company's representative. Request and contact references. Check for consumer complaints with the Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau before allowing a contractor to begin the work.
• Be cautious. Do not accept services from a contractor who refuses to provide proper identification, does not have a permanent place of business, cannot provide references, or insists on a large upfront payment, such as half or more of the total cost.
• Get written estimates from at least three different contractors. Refuse to do business with a company that does not provide a written estimate.
• Keep in mind that you generally have three business days to cancel door-to-door sales. A business must notify you of this right and cannot begin services until after the three-day period has ended.
• Don't sign over your insurance check to a contractor. If you are financing the transaction, arrange for a certificate of completion with your bank. The bank will pay the contractor for each completed stage of the job only after you give your permission.
• Get a sworn statement. Insist that the contractor provide you with a sworn statement that all materials have been paid for and all subcontractors have been paid. This will help protect you from liens that may be placed on your property if the contractor fails to pay all suppliers and subcontractors.
Anyone that believes they have been scammed by a contractor is asked to call the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-282-0515.
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