Ala. A.G. Warns of Home Repair Fraud

May 4, 2004

May is Remodeling Consumer Protection Month, and Alabama Attorney General Troy King is teaming with the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board, the Home Builders Association of Alabama, and the Better Business Bureau in an annual campaign to protect Alabama citizens against home repair fraud.

In an effort to make consumers more aware of the fraud that may be associated with home repairs, King and the partners listed will distribute brochures to senior citizen groups, local associations, civic clubs, and other organizations.

“The alliance between the Attorney General’s Office, builders, and consumer advocates is strong because we all have an interest in preventing and fighting fraud,” King said. “It is not just consumer victims, but legitimate, honorable businesses who are harmed. Unscrupulous trade practices on the part of a few may have a negative impact on how the public views an entire industry. Honest builders and businesses take seriously their responsibility to serve you with integrity and to work with my office to stop fraudulent acts that prey upon the elderly and other unsuspecting consumers.”

This year’s team effort was announced at the Homewood Senior Center to make note of how unscrupulous people tend to take advantage of older consumers.

Jefferson County’s Office of Senior Citizens Services was represented by Executive Director William Voight, who said, “There are many home repair companies in Alabama who conduct their work in a very professional manner, but there are also a number who will only partially complete the work or use inferior products in the process. Senior citizens are especially at risk for such improper methods and should be cautious when seeking a reliable company to do the work. We appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Troy King to inform our seniors about this problem in Alabama.”

The Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board was established by state law to license and regulate residential home builders for safety and protection of Alabama consumers.

The Board has the authority to revoke or suspend the license of home builders determined by the board to have committed fraud or deceit in obtaining a license or to be guilty of gross negligence, incompetence, or misconduct in the practice of residential homebuilding. In addition to such disciplinary actions, the board may also impose administrative fines for violations of state law or board regulations.

“The most important way consumers can protect themselves is simple–ask home builders if they are licensed, and ask to see their pocket-sized license card for the current year,” Chip Carden, executive director of the Home Builders Licensure Board, commented. “If your home builder has this card, you are protected, and you have reliable recourse if there is a problem with the work. The Home Builders Licensure Board has the authority and the means to take action against a builder if legitimate concerns are not fairly addressed.”

Joe White, president of the 2004 Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders, advised, “Building a home is serious business and it is important for consumers to do their homework and research before choosing a contractor for remodeling or building. Verify if they have workers’ compensation and liability insurance, and check their references. If you don’t know where to start, contact your local or state Home Builders Assocation and we will be glad to help.”

Last year, the Attorney General’s Office received an estimated 195 complaints related to home repair fraud, and so far this year about 48 such complaints have been made.

Most of these involve workers who reportedly accepted money for repair jobs they never finished, work they did not perform properly, or warranties they failed to honor.

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