Alabama storm victims warned to look out for price gouging, home repair fraud

Consumer
Alabama storm damage

(Courtesy of WKRG)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WRBL) – The Alabama Attorney General’s Office and Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board are warning consumers to be on the lookout for scams and price gouging during home repair or storm damage cleanup in the wake of Hurricane Sally.

State officials joined Baldwin County District Attorney Robert Wilters and State Representative Matt Simpson in Fairhope, Ala. on Sept. 28 to warn coastal Alabamians about the possibility of fraud as they hire workers to repair storm damage.

As consumers begin the process of home repair, the HBLB recommends using licensed home builders and roofers, as required by law. On Sept, 23, HBLB Executive Director J.R. “Chip” Carden waived some requirements for issuance of a roofer license, allowing emergency roofers licenses to be issued in Baldwin and Mobile counties.

“Based on the Governor’s disaster declaration, the Home Builders Licensure Board has activated its emergency roofer license for Mobile and Baldwin Counties in an effort to speed recovery and to protect Alabama consumers damaged by Hurricane Sally,” Carden said.

The Home Builders Licensure Board and the Attorney General’s Office also outlined several steps consumers should follow when hiring a contractor for storm damage repairs.

  • Consumers are encouraged to ask contractors to see their HBLB license. Examples of authentic licenses are available on the HBLB website. Consumers can also check on a builder’s license status by calling 800-304-0853.
  • Consumers should ask for a contractor’s professional references, especially when a contractor is from out of town or makes unsolicited contact.
  • Under state law, licensed home-builders must use written contracts. The HBLB recommends getting written confirmation of all quotes and contracts, including the contractor’s full name, address, telephone number, and a detailed description of the work to be performed.
  • Consumers are warned against making large down payments or full payments upfront and encouraged to only make final payments once they are satisfied that the job is complete.
  • Consumers should ask contractors for proof of insurance, including worker’s compensation and general liability.

The Attorney General’s Office also warned consumers of price gouging in areas affected by Hurricane Sally. The state’s price gouging law went into effect on Sept. 14, when Governor Ivey declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.

“If you take advantage of homeowners by price gouging, home and roof repair scams, and flat stealing from them, we will prosecute you,” Wilters said. “I encourage residents in the county to be cautious and patient.  Work with your insurance company, check to make sure contractors are licensed, ask a lot of questions, and if you believe a contractor is not in here for the right reasons, call law enforcement.”

Alabamians who wish to report concerns of alleged fraud or price gouging can fill out an online complaint at www.alabamaag.gov through the “Consumer Complaint” tab or call the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Interest Division at 1-800-392-5658.

For more information about home repair licensing or fraudulent contractors, consumers can also contact the Home Builders Licensure Board at (334) 242-2230 or 1-800-304-0853.

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