Maryland AG Warns Homeowners About Sandy Clean-up Scams - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland AG Warns Homeowners About Sandy Clean-up Scams

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OCEAN CITY, Md.- Days after Hurricane Sandy passed through Ocean City, there are still inches of water in the basement level of the Beach Plaza Hotel.

"It's going to take days, we've already pumped two days," said Richard Mills with the hotel. "Two days and we still have plenty of water left here and in our other maintenance shop."

The maintenance crew prepared as much as they could but the water still came. But the beach plaza is lucky, they have their own maintenance crew to help them in times of need.

"The first thing initially is that we've got to get the water out and we've got three pumps over here and from there we've got the mold damage and stuff, we've got work after that," said Scott Bohley.

The average homeowner can become very vulnerable in this time after the storm. The Maryland Attorney General's Office is warning people to be on the look out for scam artists and bad contractors looking to take advantage of people who need their homes repaired and cleaned up.

Mills said homeowners need to do their homework.

"Contact the state, try and get a listing of contractors, sub-contractors," he said. "I would say the better business bureau anyway."

Warning signs that consumers should look for following severe weather include:

  • Traveling salesmen who come knocking on your door immediately after a disaster
  • High-pressure sales tactics
  • Demands for up-front payments
  • Demands for an immediate decision
  • Advance-fee loans that "guarantee" a loan to rebuild your home or business

Before you give anyone your money, Attorney General Gansler advises Maryland homeowners and small businesses to be cautious and:

  • Check to see if a home improvement contractor is licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission and to inquire about the contractor's complaint history, call (410) 230-6309 or visit http://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/mhic/.
  • Check to see if a tree expert is licensed with the Department of Natural Resources by visiting: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/tree_expert_search.asp.
  • Deal only with contractors who have an established Maryland business.
  • Obtain at least three bids for major repair work and check references. Be cautious if one of the bids is much lower than the others.
  • Make certain that all important details concerning the work are written into the bid and contract, including: all of the work that the contractor has agreed to perform, the dates the work will begin and is expected to be completed, the total cost of the work, the type and quality of materials to be used, how and when payments will be made, and the provisions of warranties on the materials and labor. 
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