CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging residents forced to deal with damage from this summer’s severe weather to be cautious when hiring others to assist with repair and cleanup.
The advice comes in light of historic floods that devastated portions of central and southeastern West Virginia, along with confirmed tornadoes in Kanawha and Lincoln counties as well as wind damage in Harrison and Lewis counties.
“The despair in parts of our state is palpable,” Morrisey said in a statement. “We want to do what we can to ensure that victims won’t be targeted a second time.”
"Unlicensed persons often will canvas neighborhoods and offer to repair damaged property with deals that seem too good to be true,' according to a release from the AG's office. "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."
The release said many 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.
The office offered a few 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 contracting 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.
Morrisey said his office also remains on guard for sham charities and price gouging violations.
Consumers with questions, a potential storm-related home repair scam or other violation are asked to call the AG's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or file a report online at www.wvago.gov.