News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Letters

June 29, 2014

Readers’ Forum: June 30, 2014

Don’t be victim of home repair scam

The Home Builders Association of Greater Terre Haute Inc. would like to remind the public to be aware of the scam artists who like to prey on vulnerable people, especially those who have been hit after a weather-related crisis, for home damage repairs.

These “storm scammers” travel from state to state and disappear as quickly as they appear after receiving several hundreds, and at times thousands, of dollars up front.

The state of Indiana recently passed House Bill 1237 to help provide implications for contractors who perform exterior work on a home where the owner will be using part or all of the proceeds of an insurance claim to cover the work. The legislation:

• Provides that the contractor cannot advertise, offer or promise to pay or rebate any part of an insurance deductible to induce (entice) a person to enter into a home improvement contract or otherwise purchase goods or services.

• Allows the contractor to be paid for emergency repairs.

• Allows the homeowner to cancel the contract with the contractor within three days of receiving written notice from the insurance company that part or all of the contract will not be covered.

• Requires contractors, who do not have a prior business relationship with the consumer, to have a presence in Indiana (either have an office, an attorney or be registered to do business at the Secretary of State’s Office).

• Contractors must put specific language included in the legislation in their contracts.

• Penalties for violating the rules fall under the Deceptive Act.

• Effective July 1, 2012.

Here are also a few warning signs to prevent you or a loved one from being taken advantage of:

• If you are asked to pay in cash or 100 percent up front before the work is even started.

• If you are told a written contract or permit isn’t necessary.

• A professional remodeler should always provide you with a written contract that clearly explains the work to be completed, along with the price and payment policy. If it seems too low, it probably is for the wrong reason.

• If the homeowner is asked to pull the permit themselves.

• If the contractor doesn’t pull the permit for their job, it’s a good indication that they can’t perform work in our community and aren’t registered and bonded with the City of Terre Haute.

• Permits are required for all work performed. This ensures that the work performed is in compliance with applicable building codes and standards, and is inspected by the proper authority.

• Told a “special low price” is good only if you sign the contract today.

• If a contractor has no references to check. A professional contractor will be happy to provide you with references from former customers and suppliers. In fact, most encourage it.

• If you can’t verify the name, address or phone number of the contractor. A professional remodeler is a part of your community and should be happy to provide you with their contact information.

• Many reputable contractors are members of professional organizations such as the Home Builders Association and Chamber of Commerce. Membership indicates professionalism and commitment to the industry and community in which they do business.

You can verify if a contractor is registered and bonded with the City of Terre Haute by calling the City Building Inspector’s office at 812-232-5823.

However, contractors do not have to be registered to work in the county. Therefore, it is extremely important that you protect yourselves with the above criteria before choosing your contractor.

You can find professional contractors at the HBA website at www.hbaterrehaute.com or by calling our office at 812-234-5736.

— Marsha L. Doan, Executive Officer, HBA of Greater Terre Haute Inc.

Ending unfair tax practices

When U.S. District Judge Richard Young handed down his ruling in the same-sex marriage cases this week, he also determined that the Indiana Department of Revenue was at fault in the case of Fujii v. Pence.

Judge Young noted “Plaintiffs have alleged a concrete injury by having to fill out three federal tax returns in order to file separate returns for Indiana” and then determined that it was indeed “an identifiable trifle.”

Earlier this year I advocated that Indiana end the onerous process requiring same-sex couples that wed out of state and filed jointly at the federal level to then file separately at the state level.

Filing your taxes is something that every taxpaying citizen does, and I have never been able to understand why anyone would ever make that task more difficult. That’s why I proposed an end to even more government bureaucracy and inefficiency by eliminating additional state-mandated paperwork. If a judge grants the stay requested by Indiana Attorney General Zoeller, I encourage

couples to download the worksheet I created at www.claytor4auditor.com

/equality.

Making it simpler to understand our complicated and duplicated tax system does make sense, especially when a federal judge recommends that we end unnecessary and unfair practices.

As for the judgment that came down on Wednesday, as an attorney, as an accountant, as a Hoosier with same-sex married family members and friends — thank you, Judge Young, for ruling on the side of civil rights.

— Michael A. Claytor, Candidate for Indiana State Auditor, Carmel

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