As numerous Western New Yorkers begin the process of repairing properties damaged by Wednesday's severe winds, the New York State Attorney General's Office is warning people to beware of attempts to price gouge or scam homeowners.
While the Attorney General had not received any complaints as of late Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Jim Morrissey told WBFO the office was taking proactive steps during a time when would-be scam artists usually emerge to prey on people seeking help.
"In the past we've seen situations where, for example, people have lost power and they needed generators and the price of generators has all of a sudden doubled," Morrissey said. "We've seen where contractors will agree to replace a roof or do work on a roof, take a hefty down payment and then just simply never show up."
The Attorney General's office advises homeowners to be patient, seek multiple estimates and bids, then get the terms of the agreement down in writing.
"We find that often times their biggest mistake is they make huge up-front payments to contractors," Morrissey said. "Our most crucial piece of advice is not to make unreasonable advance sums to contractors. Get in writing what you want that contractor to do. Get multiple bids if you can and, if you have the time, check the references of the contractor."
Morrissey recommends the Better Business Bureau as a source to check contractors' backgrounds. He also advises homeowners to be wary of unusually low offers for jobs, because the bidder may either be attempting to take the money and flee without doing any work or entrapping the customer later with extra charges for extra services.
The Attorney General's Office has a Fraud Hotline available to report suspected scams, 800-771-7755. Individuals may also file a complaint online. For more information, click here.