Attorney General Morrisey Warns West Virginians About Home Improvement Scams
CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today reminded West Virginians to be diligent when hiring contractors and other workers for home improvement projects during the fall and winter months.
The Attorney General’s Office regularly assists consumers who believe they have been scammed by contractors. In some cases, the contractors are not licensed; in other cases, workers go door to door posing as contractors with leftover materials from a previous job, such as paving or roofing materials, and offer to sell it to the consumer for a discount. In other cases, a contractor promises to complete a job, but never returns once he or she is paid.
“Most contractors run trustworthy businesses; we just don’t want to see consumers ripped off by the very few bad apples who may be operating in a local community,” Morrisey said. “Those few bad players can be very convincing and may appear to be trustworthy individuals who genuinely want to give you a good deal. The key to protecting yourself is to fully vet any contractor before signing a contract and to inspect his or her work whenever possible.”
The Attorney General’s Office reminds citizens to be wary of prices that seem too good to be true. The Office also encourages consumers to always check to see if the contractor has a valid license by contacting the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board at 304-558-7890.
Before signing a home improvement contract, consumers should take the following precautions:
• When requesting bids, provide the contractor with accurate plans or drawings to enable him or her to determine the scope and cost of work.
• Get several written estimates with a complete description of all work to be done, required materials, and all associated costs.
• Under West Virginia law, a contractor is required to provide you with a written contract. Do not sign a contract until you read and understand it. Make sure that the contract contains every promise made by the contractor and all material, product and performance warranties.
"Scammers are very relentless in trying to take advantage of our consumers,” Morrisey said. “West Virginia citizens need to be diligent in doing their homework on contractors before signing a contract or giving them any money."
Citizens can view more tips on hiring contractors in the Office's brochure, "Measuring Up: A Consumer’s Guide to Hiring Contractors for Home Repairs," which in available online at http://www.wvago.gov/publicresource.cfm.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, please do not hesitate to call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808.