CHARLESTON —West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging Mountain State consumers to be on alert when considering contractors for home improvement projects.
Spring is the time when many homeowners consider sprucing up their homes with both indoor and outdoor projects. And while most contractors operate legitimate, trustworthy businesses, there are a few who are looking to prey on the unsuspecting.
“It is important that you know your rights as a consumer. Be sure you read and understand any contract before entering into it,” Morrisey said. “Do your research, obtain trusted testimonials and get several written estimates before deciding on someone to hire.
"Home repair and remodeling services are one of the most common areas for consumer complaints. Since this week is National Consumer Protection Week, we thought it would be beneficial to highlight steps consumers can take at the front end of a project to protect themselves.”
Beyond the contract itself, it is important to remember to not pay cash or money up front for any material, contact the Consumer Protection Division beforehand to see if any complaints have been filed against a particular contractor or company, and check for a valid contractor’s license.
The West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board can confirm if a contractor is licensed and if the license is in good standing by calling 304-558-7890.
Morrisey also offered consumers several steps to protect themselves against home improvement scams:
- Avoid door-to-door work crews, who often pose as contractors from another job with leftover materials
- Be suspicious of contractors that can only be reached by leaving a message on an answering machine or cell phone.
- Do not give into pressure for an immediate purchasing decision.
- Be skeptical of discount offers for referrals.
- Avoid a contractor who says that you have won a prize, but in order to get your prize, you must buy a home improvement product or service.
- Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true.
Citizens can view more tips on hiring contractors in the office's brochure, "Measuring Up: A Consumer’s Guide to Hiring Contractors for Home Repairs at www.ago.wv.gov/
Those who think they might have been involved in a home improvement scam or believe they have been a victim of a different scam can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle field office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239. To file a report online, go to www.wvago.gov.