Ida home damages could cause scammer repairments, how to avoid

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ)– Attorney General (AG) Josh Shapiro issued a warning to Pennsylvania homeowners about scammers posing as home improvement contractors.

“As Pennsylvania rebuilds and recovers from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, scammers will try to take advantage of consumer panic to make a profit,” said Shapiro. “I’m asking Pennsylvania homeowners to report suspicious offers to my office. If you have concerns about an unsolicited home improvement contractor, or just want to verify a contractor’s registration information before paying for home repairs, contact my office by emailing scams@attorneygeneral.gov or calling 1-800-441-2555.”

As part of Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, homeowners should remember:

  • A home improvement contractor must provide you with a copy of the complete contract, free of charge.
  • You have the right to rescind your home improvement contract without penalty within three business days of the signing date, except as provided under law for immediate emergency situations including power or water outages.
  • A home improvement contract is not enforceable against a consumer if it does not include all of the information required by law.
  • A contractor may not demand or receive any payment for a home improvement before the home improvement contract is signed. After the contract is signed, the contractor cannot request more than one-third of a contract price totaling more than $5,000 before completion of the project.
  • All contractors must display their official registration number on all contracts, estimates, proposals, and advertisements distributed within the Commonwealth.

The Office of Attorney General reminded Pennsylvanians that:

  • After major storms like Hurricane Ida, homeowners may see more instances of scams related to home improvement contracting and government loans or grants.
  • Legitimate contractors and government agencies will not send Pennsylvanians unsolicited offers.
  • Legitimate organizations will also not ask for large sums of money, and will provide written estimates and contracts before entering into any agreements.
  •  Under Pennsylvania law, contractors who perform home improvements totaling more than $5,000 per year are required to register with the Office. Pennsylvanians are encouraged to verify contractor registration by calling or emailing the Office.

These are the steps that Pennsylvanians should take to protect themselves from home improvement scams:

  • Contacting their insurance companies to ensure that improvements are covered under their policy. Once a homeowner selects a contractor to complete repairs, they should not sign insurance checks or claims over to a contractor.
  • Arranging with their bank or credit union for a Certificate of Completion. The bank will pay the contractor for each stage of the job after they have given their approval.

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