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     Storm Damage Raises Risk of Fraud 

    Board for Contractors Warns Consumers: Beware of Unlicensed Contractors

    RICHMOND– The need for repairs after storm damage can make consumers vulnerable to unscrupulous contractors who may exploit the situation. Virginia's Board for Contractors cautions the public to be wary of unlicensed contractors and home repair scam artists after severe weather. 

    Consumers can best protect themselves by checking for a valid contractor’s license, getting multiple estimates, insisting on a detailed written contract, and never paying in full up front.  

    Virginia law requires a state license-–not just a local business license-–for most contracting work or bids over $1,000. Consumers have very little recourse against unlicensed contractors. The Board for Contractors offers consumer resources, including the comprehensive guide What You Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor, available for free download

    Before hiring a contractor, consumers should observe the following Top Ten Tips (download PDF):

    • Hire only licensed contractors--qualified to do your job (right class, right specialty).
    • Check for a valid contractor license using License Lookup or by calling (804) 367-8511.
    • Get three references and review past work.
    • Get at least three bids.
    • Insist on a written contract and do not sign anything until you understand the terms.
    • Limit your deposit. Pay 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever amount is less.
    • Do not let payments get ahead of the work. Keep records of all payments.
    • Do not make final payment until you are satisfied with the job.
    • Do not pay cash.  
    • Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project (change orders, warranties, etc.).

     

    SCAM SIGNALS:

    • High-pressure or scare tactics (“offer good today only”)
    • Over-friendly sales pitches
    • “Material left-over”
    • Escalating prices
    • Deals that sound too good to be true

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