Home-repair scam warnings issued

Scam Smart

Residents who have experienced home or property damage as a result of recent severe weather outbreaks should remain vigilant against fly-by-night contractors and other fraudulent construction workers potentially out to exploit desperate homeowners looking for a quick fix, the Ohio Attorney General Office warns.

A group of Logan County Republicans were told in a monthly luncheon this week that reports of home repair scammers have already been submitted in areas impacted by a string of severe storms in the last few weeks.

Heavy flooding in Logan County, along with tornado outbreaks in Celina and Dayton has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to homes and property.

Storm-chasing contractors travel to impacted areas offering services to homeowners who experienced damage, including downed trees, roof damage or flooded homes/basements, representatives from Yost’s office told local residents this week.

“In many vases, they visit consumers at their homes and claim they can complete the work immediately,” according to a press release from the state attorney general.

Unethical contractors may ask for a large down payment or tell consumers to sign over their insurance checks, but will ultimately perform unacceptable work, or none at all.

Incidents like that have already been reported in areas hardest hit by severe weather, including in Montgomery County.

“Already in the early aftermath of these storms, we’ve seen some of the best of humanity on display,” Yost said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, I expect the coming weeks and months will also bring out some of the worst: scammers hoping to make a quick buck off of those who’ve already lost so much.”

Sound consumer practices such as insisting on a written contract, and seeking out multiple written estimates from contractors are safeguards against shady work, officials said.

Consumers also should never make large advance payments in exchange for the promise of work, and should “be wary of contractors who demand large up-front payments.”

Instead, “try to pay in increments as the work is completed to your satisfaction,” the attorney general’s office recommends.

Researching the business and understanding cancellation rights are also vital to securing good work.

Finally, consumers should consider paying with a credit card, rather than cash.

“Paying with a credit card generally gives you greater protections to dispute unauthorized charges, especially compared to paying in cash,” the attorney general’s office reports.