CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — With many West Virginians impacted by severe storms Monday night and Tuesday, some may be facing unexpected repair bills.
As such, the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office warned consumers Wednesday to be cautious when hiring contractors to make those repairs, because, after severe weather events, scam artists are known to canvas neighborhoods and offer to repair damaged property for deals that seem too good to be true—because they are.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey offered the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Evaluate the size and scope of the project.
- Get written estimates from multiple companies.
- Research companies that repair storm damage.
- 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.
The West Virginia Division of Labor also has an online portal where consumers can check a Contractor Licensing Number themselves. Just be sure to ask for the licensing number, the contractor’s company name, what name they are doing business as and the city and county their business is located in.
The Better Business Bureau backs up those suggestions, and also has some of its own for homeowners concerned about falling victim to scams:
- Get estimates in writing and never let work begin without a contract that you have read and understand before signing. It should include contact information, start and completion dates, a detailed description of the exact work to be done, any material costs, payment arrangements, and warranty information, and it should specify who is responsible for obtaining necessary building permits and for clean-up. Keep the contract.
- Get contractors’ insurance information, then call the carrier to confirm they’re covered.
- Never pay in full upfront. Stagger payments so that the final payment is not due until the work has been completed and you have inspected it. Pay by check to the name of the contractor’s company, or use a credit card for payments, not cash.
- Get a receipt and request it be marked “Paid in Full” once your final payment is made.
The AG’s Office said West Virginians with questions can call the Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office at 304-267-0239. To file a report online, click here.