AG’s Office Participates in the 17th Annual National Consumer Protection Week
BOSTON – March 4, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Following record breaking snowfall throughout the Commonwealth, Attorney General Maura Healey cautions homeowners to do their homework when selecting contractors to remove snow and ice from their roofs and to take actions to avoid becoming victims of scams.
“Heavy snowfall has required many homeowners to hire contractors to clear snow and ice from their roofs, to alleviate water damage from ice dams, or to reduce the danger of a roof collapse,” AG Healey said. “We urge homeowners to do their research when choosing a contractor to avoid unscrupulous individuals seeking to capitalize on this unprecedented winter weather and take advantage of vulnerable or uninformed homeowners.”
Homeowners are encouraged to shop wisely when selecting contractors to remove snow and ice from their roofs to ensure that the job is completed at a reasonable price and the work is conducted in a safe and responsible manner.
There is no particular license required for snow removal services. Given the unprecedented demand for snow removal this winter, homeowners may encounter both qualified and unqualified individuals willing to do the job. Unqualified or inexperienced contractors may cause undue damage to rooftops or gutters and run the risk of not being properly insured.
Hiring a roofer or other home improvement contractor registered with the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation enables homeowners to check the complaint history or the contractor. Qualified professionals may also assist homeowners in properly assessing what particular services are needed based on the circumstances.
The Attorney General’s Office also offers the following advice for homeowners:
•Make sure contractors are affiliated with a legitimate business, and are insured;
•Ask for references—names of satisfied customers who can talk about the business.
•Ask a neighbor, friend or co-worker for the name of a business they have used, and how much they paid;
•Be extra cautious if a contractor solicits business by telephone or by knocking on the door. In the aftermath of the recent storms, reputable contractors are extremely busy trying to keep up with demand for their services;
•If possible, get estimates from more than one contractor and compare prices;
•Obtain a written contract or estimate describing the exact work to be done and the price;
•Be wary of a contractor who demands full payment up front. Reputable contractors often allow payment upon the completion of the job, or may require a portion of the fee upon signing the contract and the remainder when the job is done;
Prior to repairing any damage to your home or personal property, homeowners are encouraged to review their insurance policies to ensure they receive the appropriate coverage and to be informed of their rights as a policy holder. Homeowners insurance, auto insurance and flood insurance may provide coverage. Homeowners should also take photographs of damaged areas and keep records of all communications with insurance agents and adjusters.
Consumers seeking additional information and tips for dealing with an insurance company are advised to visit the Attorney General’s website.
To check the history of a business or to file a complaint about a scam or insurance issue, the Attorney General’s Office urges consumers to contact its consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400 or file a complaint online at www.mass.gov/ago/consumercomplaint.