Bad contractors likely to strike Indiana’s storm damaged areas


greg zoellerAG Zoeller offers several tips to avoid being ripped off

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today warned storm victims of illegitimate contractors who may knock at your door and try to pressure you into a bad deal.

Fly-by-night contractors often travel to weather-related disaster areas to offer home repair, clean-up, debris removal and tree-trimming services. Zoeller said Hoosiers should know their rights and fully research the company before signing a contract.

“Bogus contractors prey on homeowners who are desperate to have repairs made quickly. That’s why letting your guard down and not checking out the company could leave you with unfinished work and an unsafe home,” Zoeller said. “If a contractor pressures you to make a quick decision, your decision should be no.”

The Attorney General’s office offers several tips to be avoid being ripped off by a contractor:

  • Get a written contract before any work is performed or payment is made. Indiana law requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing;
  • Before signing the contract, make certain it includes the cost, payment schedule, description of work, estimated start and completion dates, contractor’s contact information and contractor’s signature.
  • If you receive an insurance check, have it made out in your name to maintain control of the funds and do not sign it over to your contractor;
  • Do not pay more than one-third of the total cost of the project as a down payment. Remaining payments should be tied to completion of specified amounts of work;
  • Don’t make the final payment to the contractor until you know that all subcontractors and/or suppliers have been paid. Get written proof of payment. Subcontractors and suppliers may file a mechanics lien against your home if they haven’t been paid; and
  • Keep all records related to your project including the contract, change orders, warranties and any correspondence should problems arise.

Any consumers who feel they have been ripped off are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office by visiting or by calling 1-800-382-5516.

Zoeller also said Hoosiers should look out for possible charity scams and for help on how to recognize red flags. Consumers can to assist in identifying legitimate relief organizations and determine how much of their donations are used to help victims rather than on administrative overhead.