Commonwealth’s Attorney and Commissioner of the Revenue Warn of Repair Scams Following Hurricane Matthew

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle and Commissioner of the Revenue Philip Kellam urge residents to use caution when selecting contractors to repair home damage sustained during Hurricane Matthew.  Consumers are increasingly vulnerable after natural disasters, causing scammers to prey upon unsuspecting victims. The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) Board of Contractors recommends the following ten (10) tips for choosing a contractor:

  1. Hire a licensed contractor qualified to perform the type and amount of work you require. (Virginia law requires a state license for most contracting work over $1,000.  Exception: contractors performing services in localities in which they do not maintain a definite place of business are not required to pay a license fee or tax so long as their gross receipt does not exceed $25,000.  This means that contractors from outside Virginia Beach may perform services in Virginia Beach without a license so long as they don't make more than $25,000 from such work.)
  2. Check for a current professional license online: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/ or by calling (804) 367-8511. Check for a local business license by contacting the Commissioner of the Revenue at (757) 385-4515 or by e-mail: business@vbgov.com.
  3. Check references and review past work.
  4. Get at least three (3) estimates if possible.
  5. Insist on a written contact. Do not sign anything unless you understand the terms.
  6. Limit your deposit.  Pay 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.  If the job requires custom-made items or special orders, then limit to 30% of the contract's total value.
  7. Do not let payments get ahead of the work, and keep records of all payments.
  8. Don't pay 100% of the bill until the work is complete and you are satisfied with the job.
  9. Do not pay cash.  It is hardest to track and recover in the event of a scam.
  10. Save all documentation relating to your project, to include warranty information.

Consumers should be wary of high-pressure sales tactics and over-friendly sales pitches.  A reputable contractor should allow the consumer time to research and check references.  Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Always report suspicious activity to police by calling (757) 385-5000 in a non-emergency or 911 in an emergency.

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