TOPEKA – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging residents in areas damaged by weekend storms to use caution during the cleanup and rebuilding to avoid scams by transient contractors.
“After storm damage, our main priority is to clean up and rebuild as quickly as possible,” Schmidt said. “Friends, family and neighbors are usually the first to offer help. However, there are also those who take advantage of victims in their time of need.”
Home repair scams are common in natural disaster situations. Scammers will pose as contractors, approaching overwhelmed homeowners and offering to do repairs. They will often ask for cash in advance to purchase supplies, and then never return to do the work. To avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud, Schmidt offers these tips:
· Ask for recommendations and references from contractors.
· Get at least three written estimates from different contractors.
· Make sure the contractor meets all licensing and permitting requirements, and is properly insured.
· Get all contracts in writing, and don’t make a final payment until all work has been properly completed.
· If possible, do business with trusted contractors with whom you had a relationship prior to the disaster.
Consumers should be especially cautious of contractors who come door-to-door, offer discounted “leftover” materials, drive unmarked vehicles or quote a price that is out of line with other estimates.
If you believe you have been offered fraudulent home repair services, or if you suspect you may already be a victim of a home repair scam, contact the Kansas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-432-2310 or www.ag.ks.gov.