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Indiana Twp. workshop offers residents tips on avoiding fraud

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

With autumn weather comes home improvements but also a chance of fraud, Indiana Township police said.

“There's some basic commonsense things that residents should be aware of when they're hiring contractors,” Detective Steve Colucci said.

He and Patrolman Marc Myers, along with zoning officer Jeff Curti, will present a workshop to help residents avoid construction scams.

The meeting scheduled for Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at the town hall, 310 Saxonburg Blvd.

Residents can learn about the state Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, approved in 2008 to keep scam artists at bay.

The law requires contractors who perform more than $5,000 worth of improvements each year to register with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.

Customers are then able to verify a contractor's license.

Colucci said that's the most important rule to follow, asking a potential contractor for a license and then checking it with the state.

“Ask if they have insurance, ask for references,” he said. “They might seem legitimate and then they get paid and never do the work.”

A few township residents have fallen for scams over the last two years, Colucci said. The thieves aren't just targeting older residents, he said.

“If you have contractors looking at your house and you have one really low bid, that might be of some concern. If someone says they can cut you a good deal, you want to check into it,” he said.

“We can't eliminate this from happening but we want residents to be aware of some things they can do to prevent it.”

To check a contractor's legitimacy, call the attorney general's office at 1-888-520-6680.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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