Connecticut State Police investigators are urging local residents to be wary of “storm chasers” following last week’s violent weather that sent debris flying, uprooted trees and left dozens of homes damaged.
The Department of Consumer Protection is warning area residents to be on the lookout for scams as they prepare to make any repairs on their homes following the storm.
“Some scammers or ‘storm chasers’ prey on families after weather emergencies because they know they need repairs done quickly,” officials from the DCP noted. “Our message to consumers: know the signs of a scam, and don’t fall for them.”
In an effort to help local residents avoid being scammed by opportunistic contractors, state police offered a series of tips:
- Shop around: Always get more than one price quote for work you need done;
- Ask questions: If there’s anything you need clarified, or something in your contract that you don’t understand, always ask about it before you finalize your agreement;
- Have a contract: Home improvement contractors are required to have a written contract with you;
- Understand your payments: Make sure you have a payment plan included in your contract, and never pay in full up front;
- Verify registration: All home improvement contractors are required to be registered with DCP. You can verify their registration at www.elicense.ct.gov;
- Don’t fall for scams: Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never give in to pressure tactics, forego a contract, pay in cash, or pay in full up front.
"Consumers who feel they’ve fallen victim to a scam should first reach out to their contractor to try and resolve the situation," state police noted. "If their efforts to resolve their issue don’t work, consumers should file a complaint with DCP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with detailed information regarding their problem."
“Whenever there’s a bad storm, we always hope that everyone’s circumstances improve when the weather does, but that’s not always true,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull said. “Some contractors take advantage of a situation that’s already stressful for families by offering to do home repairs at low cost, and not following through.
"Consumers should always do their research before deciding who should do repairs on their home. If a contractor asks you to decide immediately in order to get a cheaper price, or asks you to pay in cash – it’s most likely a scam.”
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