Photo by Mike Diegel
In the aftermath of the windstorm Friday and Saturday, the county is looking for residents’ help in an attempt to qualify for federal disaster assistance, while warning of scams likely to come.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared an emergency last week due to the storm and if there’s enough damage, Maryland could be declared a federal disaster zone.
Residents can help by reporting any storm-related damage. The county has created an online form for reporting the information (this will not affect any insurance claims nor substitute for filing a claim).
At the same time, the Office of Consumer Protection has issued a warning about what are commonly known as “woodchuck” scams.
“It is rare when we can predict an absolute certainty that consumers will be scammed,” the OCP said in its release.
Companies coming door-to-door offering to trim damaged trees and/or pick up debris will initiate the scam. While doing that work, they will claim to find damage to roofs, siding and gutters, offering to fix the problems and possibly pushing additional home improvement work.
Generally, these companies are unlicensed home improvement contractors who provide false names and false/temporary contact information on the work orders.
“They will take the deposit, and if they return at all, will do an incomplete or shoddy job on the project,” the OCP said.
There are several sites where consumers can check to ensure a potential contractor is legitimate and properly licensed:
- Home improvement contractors
- Contractors for electrical, plumbing, HVACR, or gas work
- Arborists (necessary to work on trees more than 20 feet tall)
- OCP merchant complaint records
The Door-to-Door Sales Act now allows residents five days to cancel a contract (seven days for senior citizens).