WEST VIRGINIA - Officials in West Virginia are warning local residents about a surge in scams.
The state's insurance commissioner says the increase is being seen nationwide and usually targets homeowners trying to repair damage after a storm.
The contractors responsible offer to fix things like your roof and tell you that your home insurance-company will pay for the repairs.
Officials say that isnt always the case and crooks have been known to pocket insurance proceeds without ever lifting a finger.
Officials suggest contacting your insurance company to verify benefits before you have any work done.
The West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner offers these tips to avoid becoming a victim of these types of scams.
-Contact your insurance company to verify benefits immediately after a disaster and so they can send an adjuster to assess any potential damage you may have incurred.
-Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.
-Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.
-If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch them conduct the inspection.
-Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
-Request references from contractors and contact the references to verify work was completed timely and to satisfaction.
-Obtain, in writing, the terms and conditions of the project.
-Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.
-Avoid signing a contract that has not been completed fully.
-Pay contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash.
-Refrain from paying a contractor in full, or signing a completion certificate, until all work has been finished.
-Do not provide the contractor with your personal information, such as your social security number.
West Virginians who feel they may have been a victim of one of these scams should contact the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner at 1-888-879-9842.