CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office is urging state residents dealing with damage from this week’s severe weather to be cautious when hiring others to assist with repair and cleanup.
The advice comes in light of severe storms that produced strong winds and heavy rainfall across West Virginia on March 1.
“The strength and early timing of Wednesday’s storm caught thousands off guard,” Morrisey said in a statement. “Scammers often prey upon those already facing hardships. That’s why it is important to cautiously research any contractor to make sure you don’t get ripped off.”
The AG's office says unlicensed persons often will canvas neighborhoods and offer to repair damaged property with deals that seem too good to be true. At times they will imply they are working on nearby homes or suggest they are with the bank or insurance company.
All too often, the money is paid without completion of the work.
Many times scammers fail to provide contact information, such as a contractor’s license, business card or other identification, and use high-pressure sales tactics to force immediate purchases.
The AG's office warns residents to take their time, research options and be very careful before hiring an unfamiliar contractor. Here are a few suggested tips:
* Evaluate the size and scope of their project.
* Obtain written estimates from multiple companies.
* Research companies that do those jobs.
* Ask for references to verify the contractor’s prior work.
* Look for reviews of the company on trusted websites.
* Check to see if the contractor has a valid license by contacting the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board at 304-558-7890.
Additionally, state law requires contractors to allow the consumer five days to cancel roofing contracts, as opposed to the three-day period for door-to-door sales, without penalty for any portion of repairs not covered by the consumer’s insurance policy. The clock begins with the consumer’s receipt of the insurance notice.
Anyone with questions or a potential storm-related home repair scam is advised to call the AG's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office at 304-267-0239. To file a report online, consumers can visit www.wvago.gov.