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Posted: January 28, 2017 12:57 p.m.

Kemp warns storm victims to be wary of unlicensed contractors

In the aftermath of violent tornadoes in South Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp warns affected property owners to be wary of unlicensed contractors once rebuilding is underway.

“Unfortunately, scams are common in communities recently impacted by natural disasters. Con artists invade to make a quick buck and, many times, leave the job unfinished,” stated Secretary Kemp. “I strongly encourage storm victims to research their options before hiring a contractor to make repairs.”

Before you select a contractor, check his or her licensure status. Under Georgia law, general and residential contractors must hold a valid license. You can verify an individual or company’s license through the Professional Licensing Boards Division twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Document property damage before the work starts. Taking pictures or a video establishes a record of existing damage before a contractor gives you a repair estimate. This documentation is helpful if you plan on filing an insurance claim to fix the damage, and it will keep you from paying for new property damage caused by a contractor.

Do not fall for high-pressure sales tactics. Reputable contractors will not go door-to-door to get your business, and if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Take time to research the business to see if it is locally owned and operated, and ask the contractor for references and proof of insurance.

Always get multiple estimates. It is always unwise to rush into a contract before weighing other options, even in an emergency. Be present for each inspection to make sure that you understand what is going into the contractor’s estimate analysis.

Before you seal the deal, get it in writing. Do not pay for any work up front until all parties finalize and sign the agreement. The agreement should outline the scope of the work, materials, price, and timeline. If you have insurance, make sure your insurance company signs off on everything before the work begins. Finally, the contractor should be responsible for obtaining any necessary building permits, not you.

If you receive a suspicious solicitation or experience poor workmanship, please contact the Georgia Board of Residential and General Contractors at (478) 207-2440 or email soscontact@sos.ga.gov to submit a complaint.

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting secure, accessible, and fair elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities, charities, and professional license holders.  For more information about the office, go to www.sos.ga.gov or follow Secretary Kemp on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or YouTube.

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