Consumer Alert: In the Aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias Consumer Protection Warns of Storm Chasers, Urges Families to Be Aware of Scammers
Wednesday, August 5th, 2020 – As families across Connecticut recover from the wreckage left behind by Tropical Storm Isaias, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is urging residents to be cautious when hiring contractors for repairs. Unfortunately, too often storms like these bring scammers who target families at their most vulnerable times. Damage to homes can be costly to repair, and those repairs often need to happen quickly. That said, DCP is urging families to take a step back, and ensure that they’re working with a legitimate contractor before paying money to the wrong person.
“Contractors, legitimate and illegitimate, often have an uptick in business after storms,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “When families have to make hard decisions quickly, and are under stress, it can be hard to tell the difference between a legitimate offer and someone who is trying to take your hard earned money without performing any work. We want to remind families to look out for the signs of a scam so they can spot them, and avoid problems even larger than their initial home repairs.”
Avoid doing business with someone who:
- Requires that you pay in cash, by wire transfer, or in any form of untraceable payment;
- Refuses to offer you a contract in writing (contracts are required by law in the State of Connecticut);
- Offers you an incredibly low cost for work that needs to be completed, under the condition that you commit immediately;
- Knocks on your door, or otherwise solicits business specifically from you (instead of you going to them);
- Doesn’t provide references; and
- Will not provide proof of their credentials.
Before you commit to a contractor, you should:
- Ensure that a contractor has the appropriate credentials for the work they’re performing by visiting www.elicense.ct.gov;
- If someone is making changes to your home, they must have a home improvement contractor registration.
- If someone is conducting tree trimming or related work, they must have an Arborist License through the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
- Check references, and specifically request references from those who have had work done similar to what you need done. (For example, if you need your windows replaced, get a reference from someone who has also had their windows replaced);
- Get quotes from multiple contractors;
- Make sure you have a written contract, read it in its entirety, and ask any questions you may have before signing; and
- Be prepared to pay in a traceable form like check, or credit card.
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