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Residents Warned Of Scam Artists

As if the ravages of nature weren’t enough, Washington residents need to beware of scam artists waiting to take advantage of storm victims, state officials said Tuesday.

“As the snow melts and waters recede, scam artists often descend into a heavy-hit storm area,” Attorney General Christine Gregoire said. “They take advantage of people with innocent-sounding offers of help.”

The first con artists on the scene are usually questionable contractors who promise immediate or cheap home repairs, cleanup and remodeling, she said. Some are from out-of-state, unregistered, and take money upfront and then do either shabby work or no work at all, she said.

Gregoire and Mark Brown, director of the state Department of Labor and Industries, said consumers should ask for and check references and call (800) 647-0982 to make sure a contractor is registered with the state.

The labor department said one tip that the contractor may not be legitimate is if he or she asks the customer to pick up the building permit - a sign that the person might not be registered and fears showing up at the building department.

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