ALBANY -- Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a consumer alert Thursday to warn against price gouging following severe wind storms across Western New York.
The office said Thursday morning it had yet to receive any complaints about price gouging, but urged consumers to file a complaint if they see prices suspiciously spiking in the area.
“New Yorkers should take caution when seeking repairs in the aftermath of damaging wind storms,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, scammers are more likely to prey on unsuspecting consumers during major weather events. I urge New Yorkers to report any potential price gouging or scams to my office."
If price gouging is suspected, call the office's Consumer Fraud Bureau at 800-771-7755 or visit http://on.NY.gov/2lsGMpT to file a complaint.
State law bars businesses from excessive increases in prices of essential goods and services, such as food, water, gas, generators, batteries and flashlights during natural disasters, Schneiderman said.
It is also barred by hotels and transportation companies.
"During and after severe weather events, these goods and services might also include tree clean up services, roof repairs and other storm-related damage," his office said.
"For example, some homeowners may be required to hire contractors to help with power outages and home repairs, especially given the possibility of roof collapses and building damage."
Here's some tips for consumers, according to Schneiderman's office:
-- Shop around: Get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided for the job.
-- Get it in writing: Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed.
-- Don't pay unreasonable advance sums:. Negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job. Never pay the full price up front.
-- Get references. Check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers, and neighbors. Get contact references provided to you.
-- Know your rights. You have three days to cancel after signing a contract for home improvements. All cancellations must be in writing.