Beware of scammers during tornado recovery, Virginia Beach officials say

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VIRGINIA BEACH — A tornado damaged more than 200 Beach homes Friday night and local contractors are about to be very busy.

Before residents hire workers to repairs their walls and leaky roof, Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle and Commissioner of the Revenue Phillip Kellam encourage residents to choose wisely.

“Consumers are increasingly vulnerable after natural disasters, causing scammers to prey upon unsuspecting victims,” a city news release states.

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation Board of Contractors recommends homeowners be mindful of these ten things, according to the release:

  • Hire licensed contractors that are qualified to repair the type and amount of work necessary. Virginia law says local contractors need a state license to perform work over $1,000.
  • Use this search tool to see if a contractor has a current professional license, or call 804-367-8511. Homeowners can call 757-385-4515 or email business@vbgov.com to check for local business licenses.
  • Review contractors’ past work and check with their references.
  • Get at least three estimates.
  • Use a written contract, but do not sign it if the terms are unclear.
  • Limit the initial deposit by paying 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less costly. Pay 30 percent of the contract’s price as a deposit if custom work or special ordering is required.
  • Keep records of all payments, and don’t let them get ahead of work.
  • Don’t pay the full price for an incomplete job.
  • Avoid paying with cash, as it is the hardest to recover if a scam occurs.
  • Keep a paper trail by saving all documents and warranty information.

Stolle and Kellam also said residents should be wary of high-pressure sale tactics and unusually friendly sales pitches.

Consumers can report suspicious incidents to police by calling its non-emergency line at 757-385-5000.

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