For construction workers and contractors eager to get to work after the Washington tornado it may seem like a pain to stop and register with the Illinois Attorney General's office.
For construction workers and contractors eager to get to work after the Washington tornado it may seem like a pain to stop and register with the Illinois Attorney General's office. But after the storm while people are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together is when they are also the most vulnerable to scams, officials said. “The people (hit by the tornado) have been made victims once and we are going to do our very best to make sure they are not a victim a second time,” City Administrator Tim Gleason told the Washington City Council last week. Contractors working on Washington homes without a yellow placard from the attorney general's office are subject to arrest. To some contractors the placard is another sign of being a legitimate business. Workers from Menold Construction and Restoration said getting the permit was an easy and understandable delay. Registration for contractors is headquartered at Washington City Hall, 301 Walnut St. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan warned of home repair scammers who follow media accounts and quickly move into affected areas to take advantage of people. Madigan said that these “storm chasers” use the opportunity to pressure people into making impulsive, often expensive, decisions about cleanup and construction work. “In the wake of this weekend's devastating storms, communities face a long recovery process,” Madigan said. “During this challenging time, I encourage area residents to be cautious and on alert for scammers trying to take advantage of people in need of assistance.” Madigan encouraged local residents and business owners to call local law enforcement agencies and her office's Consumer Fraud Hotline (1-800-386-5438) to report any suspicious activity. Investigators with her office, who already have been assisting local authorities in Washington since Nov. 19 will look into complaints received about contractors. Also, a contractor meeting is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Central Junior High School, 601 Taylor St., East Peoria. OSHA representatives will be distributing safety information and will be available to answer questions. Call 589-7033 for more information.