Cuomo Warns Against Post-Sandy Home Repair Scams

Gov. Cuomo put out a warning to New York home and business owners to protect themselves against home repair scams.

Print Email

As homes and business across New York repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, Gov. Cuomo warned New Yorkers to be on guard against scammers.

“Most people and businesses will be hard at work rebuilding, but sadly some dishonest people will try to take advantage of others misfortune to make a quick dishonest buck,” said Governor Cuomo. “You don’t want to add being cheated to the damage you have already suffered from the storm. You can protect yourself by being on guard and taking simple precautions.”
There are several indicators that a contractor or salesman may be attempting to scam an unsuspecting homeowner.  First, seek out your own contractor, and be wary of repairmen who contact you or come to your home.  Don’t rush into any repairs without getting all the information, especially when the repairman urges you to do so.  
A salesman may be attempting to scam you if they offer reduced price materials, saying they were left over from a previous job, or offers discounts if you take on the job or refer others that day.  Homeowners are also warned to avoid non-local salesmen or contractors who are not associated with any locally established businesses.
Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, advised homeowners to review with their families how they plan to handle home repairs in order to thwart door-to-door scammers.  
“Home repair fraud increases exponentially following a major storm. It is essential to protect yourself," Lawsky said.  “If your property has been damaged, you are likely to be upset and want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Scam artists take advantage of that. That’s why it’s important to take the time to think through decisions, shop around, get a written contract and just say no to anything that sounds suspicious or too good to be true.”
Contractors operating in Nassau and Suffolk counties require a license, including out-of-area contractors who have been conducting home repairs in the area since the storm.  Check references for all contractors that you hire, and do not hire contractors who cannot provide references, or whose references cannot be reached.  Reliable contractors buy materials on credit, don’t supply contractors with money for materials before a repair.  Only pay for the entire project after it’s been completed and a final walkthrough has been done to confirm the quality of the work.
By law, all contracts over $500 need to be written, but homeowners are advised to have written contracts for all repair work.  
If you’ve had a problem with a contractor, you should file a report with your local consumer protection office or with the New York State Department of State.
Share your thoughts on this article by posting a comment below or by visiting our Long Island Living discussion forum.