COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned consumers Monday who were impacted by the violent weather over the weekend to beware of traveling contractors attempting to take advantage of homeowners needing assistance.
Traveling contractors enter a community attempting to take money for services they will not provide after making promises they do not keep. DeWine's Contractor Registration Program is meant to protect affected communities from contractors who might try to take advantage of them.
"The aftermath of the storms we recently experienced in Ohio has been devastating," DeWine said. "But by working together we will get through this. Members of my office are available for local officials to assess the situation and determine how we can help. As repairs continue, please watch out for fly-by-night contractors trying to scam money out of this difficult situation."
If a community decides to implement DeWine's program, the community would pass an emergency ordinance that requires contractors to register prior to doing work in the affected area. DeWine's office plans to assist with the registration process to verify information provided on applications filed by contractors.
DeWine suggested that homeowners looking for contractors research the contractors before signing contracts, be cautious of contractors who will not provide proper identification, get written estimates, get sworn statements, never sign over insurance checks to contractors and be wary of demands for large down payments and be cautious of people who arrive at their door asking to do the work immediately.
Consumers should obtain the address, name and phone number of contractors and check out consumer complaints with DeWine's office and the Better Business Bureau. Ohioans should not accept services from contractors who do not have a permanent place of business, cannot give references or insist on a large payment prior to working. Consumers should get estimates from more than one contractor and should receive a sworn statement that all materials have been paid for and all subcontractors have been paid. Sworn statements protect consumers from liens that can be placed on a property if the contractor fails to pay all subcontractors and suppliers.
Consumers financing a transaction with a contractor can arrange a certificate of completion with a bank in which the bank can pay contractors for each completed stage of the job after receiving permission. Business soliciting consumers at their home must give a three day right to cancel and should not start the work before the three days unless consumers waive the right. Consumers should also be wary of high-pressure sales tactics.