HARRISBURG, Pa. -- McKean County residents who live in the flood stricken area of the county declared a major disaster Sept. 1 should take care when hiring contractors to repair damages from the recent flooding.
"Fraudulent contractors often come to storm-hit areas to take advantage of people's misfortunes," Federal Coordinating Officer Jack Schuback said. He urged residents to be especially careful of door-to-door solicitors who ask for large deposits or for entire payments in advance.
"Unfortunately, there are scam artists ready to capitalize on the misfortune of others," State Coordinating Officer Bob Churchman said. Churchman offered flood victims the following advice:
- Use reliable contractors and ask for references.
- Select contractors known in the community and recognized for their competence.
- Get written estimates from several contractors and compare prices before making a decision.
- Make sure contractors carry general liability insurance.
- Sign only contracts and work orders that: thoroughly identify the work to be performed; estimate the cost of the work; and lists any warranty information on the work.
- Signed agreements should include procedural forms for changes to original work orders.
- Get a complete contract
- Pay by check. Do not make on-the-spot cash payments.
Consumers who have problems with a contractor or have been victims of fraud can initiate a complaint by calling the Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555.