A.G. Schneiderman Issues Consumer Warning In Advance Of Flood Relief Construction

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2017

New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060
Albany Press Office / 518-776-2427
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A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ISSUES CONSUMER WARNING IN ADVANCE OF FLOOD RELIEF CONSTRUCTION

Schneiderman: Scammers Often Follow The Money; Be Careful To Protect Yourself From Predatory Or Fraudulent Businesses Seeking To Profit From Storm Damage

ALBANY—Following the State’s announcement that New York will dedicate up to $15 million in state funding to help homeowners impacted by flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today issued a consumer alert warning homeowners to be cautious when entering into agreements with contractors.

“The good news is that New Yorkers impacted by flooding will see much-needed relief,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “However, scammers often follow the money. Be careful to protect yourself from predatory or fraudulent businesses seeking to profit from storm damage. This includes contractors who may represent themselves as experts in areas in which they have little or no experience. My office will continue to hold contractors accountable and, together, we can ensure that New Yorkers get the home repairs they need, without getting ripped off in the process.”

Under the terms of the State’s program, homeowners may qualify for up to $50,000 for interior and exterior repairs and to repair or replace permanent structures. The funding will be provided through New York State Homes and Community Renewal and administered through not-for-profit housing organizations.

The funds will be available for a wide array of repairs caused by the flooding, including environmental health hazard mitigation such as mold remediation, repair or replacement concerning damage to real property, replacement of residential appliances, and shoreline hardening such as boulders and rip-rap.

The Attorney General advises consumers to get quotes from at least three contractors when possible, and check the qualifications of contractors before hiring them. Don’t hesitate to ask the following questions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Are you a local company?
  • What specific experience do you have in the particular area for which I am hiring a contractor?
  • How many similar jobs have you done in the past year?

In addition, don’t take the contractor’s word alone. Ask the contractor for the names of three recent clients and speak with those consumers. You can also call the Better Business Bureau.

When hiring a contractor, you should:

  • Get a written agreement that describes all of the work that the contractor will do and when the contractor will do it.
  • Get proof that the contractor is insured.
  • Make sure that the contractor obtains all required permits.
  • Never pay in cash.
  • Never pay for a job upfront.
  • Make a small down payment and reserve as much as possible for the final payment to give the contractor an incentive to complete the job satisfactorily.
  • Make sure that the contractor deposits all advance payments into a special trust account and get the name of the bank if possible.

Taking these steps will help to minimize risks when working with a contractor. 

If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraudulent or predatory practices, contact the Office of the Attorney General at www.ag.NY.gov/complaint-forms or at 1-800-771-7755.