Consumers must know rights

Published 10:23 am Friday, August 26, 2016

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

“Any time you have tornados, severe thunderstorms, downed trees, or damaged buildings, there’s a risk of scams,” DeWine said. “Some con artists track severe weather so that they can travel to affected areas to rip off homeowners. They promise to make repairs right away, but after getting paid, they leave town without completing the work. We’re encouraging people to be very careful. The first contractor who shows up after a storm may not be the best.”

Unfortunately, more than 30 Ironton residents already learned that lesson after a contracting company swindled homeowners out of more than $140,000 back in 2012.

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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 asks for a large sum of money upfront, do not accept the services;

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

• Do not sign over your insurance check to a contractor or make large payments in advance;

• If the contract resulted from a door-to-door sale, you generally have three days to cancel the contract, according to Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act. The seller should give you written notice of these rights; 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.