(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Following the violent storms in southern Ohio this weekend, Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered a warning to residents to beware of traveling contractors who try to take advantage of homeowners in need of assistance.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by the tornado and storms," Attorney General DeWine said. "Members of my office are in Clermont County now working with local officials to assess the situation and determine how we can help. In the meantime, we want to warn all affected homeowners to be wary of fly-by-night contractors trying to take advantage of this sad situation."
Ohio Attorney General representatives currently are in the village of Moscow, which was devastated by the storm. Representatives are discussing with local officials the office's Contractor Registration Program, which is designed to help protect affected communities from contractors who try to take advantage of them. If a community chooses to implement the program, the community would pass an emergency ordinance requiring contractors to register before doing work in the affected area. The Ohio Attorney General's Office would assist with the registration process and verify information provided on contractor applications.
After disaster strikes, traveling contractors may come into a community to try to take money for services that they do not provide and make promises that they do not keep.
DeWine offers the following tips for homeowners who are looking for contractors:
- Research the contractor before signing any contract. Obtain the name, address, and phone number of any contractor agreeing to do work for you. Ask for identification from the company's representative. Check out consumer complaints with the Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau.
- Be cautious. Do not accept services from any contractor who refuses to provide proper identification, does not have a permanent place of business, cannot provide references, or insists on a large payment before work begins.
• Get written estimates. Do some shopping and get estimates from more than one contractor. Refuse to do business with a company that does not provide a written estimate.
- Never sign over your insurance check to a contractor. If you are financing the transaction, arrange for a certificate of completion with your bank. The bank will pay the contractor for each completed stage of the job only after you give your permission.
- Get a sworn statement. Insist that the contractor provide you with a sworn statement that all materials have been paid for and all subcontractors have been paid. This will protect you from liens which may be placed on your property if the contractor fails to pay all suppliers and subcontractors.
Ohioans who have questions about a contractor or those who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3820
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840