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Alert: Transient Contractors Scam for Cash

by on April 22, 2014 4:17 PM

Authorities warn residents to beware of transient contractors who move town to town scamming homeowners out of cash in exchange for poor work.

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane recently issued an alert, telling property owners to watch out for traveling home improvement contractors who bilk consumers out of thousands of dollars.

"After this year's long and seemingly never-ending winter, homeowners will be anxious to begin improvement projects," Kane says. "Our message to consumers is one of caution. Be careful with whom you do business this spring."

The scams have been known to occur in the State College area, according to State College Police Sgt. Chris Hill. When police receive a tip that questionable contractors are in the area, Hill says officers make their presence known.

"As soon as they know they're under scrutiny of the police they pick up and leave town," Hill says.

Authorities say the traveling contractors claim to be in the area with excess paving or sealing material and offer to repair or protect a homeowner's driveway. In many cases, the materials are inferior and the work performed is shoddy, forcing consumers to pay someone else to correct the job.

Complaints involving home improvement or repairs are among the top complaints made to the Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, which went into effect in July 2009, establishes a mandatory registration program for contractors who offer or perform home improvements in Pennsylvania.

Homeowners are encouraged to check with the Attorney General to verify contractor registration. Additionally, consumers should contact the Better Business Bureau, check the contractors' references and obtain multiple estimates.

The Attorney General's office also offers these tips:

- Do not let anybody rush you into a home improvement project.

- Do not do business with contractors who appear at your door unexpectedly and point out problems with your home or offer a "good deal" on repair work.

- Do not allow any contractor, utility company or "inspector" in your home without confirming their identity.

- Homeowners, especially senior citizens, should rely on family, friends or neighbors for assistance in hiring a home improvement contractor.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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