Protect yourself from scams

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2014

Earlier this week Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a reminder to consumers to be wary of storm-chasing contractors following severe weather.

Lawrence County has already seen its share of severe weather in the past several weeks and for those impacted, cleaning up the debris and making home repairs sometimes requires professional help.

Unfortunately, there are some dishonest people out there who track storms, travel to affected communities, and knock on doors to offer their services to homeowners who experience damage. They may claim they can complete the work immediately and ask the consumer to make a large down payment or to sign over their insurance check, but they end up doing little or shoddy work.

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Dozens of Ironton residents experienced this last spring after being left high and dry by All Seasons of Kentucky, a construction company whose owners are under indictment for more than 100 counts combined of theft, money laundering and receiving stolen property.

The accused in that case are expected to plead on July 3 and hopefully the justice system will prevail for those who fell victim to the alleged scam.

Here are a few tips from the Ohio AG that consumers are advised to follow before hiring a contracting company:

• Research the company before signing any contract, ask for identification from the company representative and request and contact references. If they can’t provide the information you ask for or ask for a large sum of money upfront, do not accept the services;

• Get written estimates from several contactors and do not do business with a company that will not provide one;

• Do not sign over your insurance check to a contactor; and

• Get a sworn statement that all materials have been paid for and all subcontractors have been paid. This will help protect you from liens that may be placed on your property if the contractor fails to pay all suppliers and subcontractors.