Attorney General Josh Shapiro has issued a consumer alert warning Pennsylvanians of home repair or improvement scams in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The natural disaster not only involved damage caused by the forces of nature. It can also invoke malicious intentions of those who take advantage of the misfortune of others to get economic gain.
“As Pennsylvania rebuilds and recovers from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, scammers will try to take advantage of consumer panic to make a profit. I’m asking Pennsylvania homeowners to report suspicious offers to my office,” said Shapiro.
As we recover and rebuild from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, scammers will try and make a quick buck off of Pennsylvanians.
Know the warning signs — and report suspicious offers to my office. https://t.co/kmOhiTEwPq
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) September 4, 2021
He also reminded residents’ rights when interacting with home improvement contractors. According to the Attorney General official website, 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.
Protection from scams
Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to take proactive steps to protect themselves from home improvement scams by:
- 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.
The Office of Attorney General’s contractor registration search feature is available at https://hicsearch.attorneygeneral.gov.
You can read: How to help people affected by Ida in New Jersey?
If homeowners encounter problems with their contractor that cannot be settled through the contract or encounter a scam contractor, they are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Attorney General by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-800-441-2555.