Sadly, September finds thousands of Americans facing unparalleled property damage as a result of Hurricane Irma and Harvey’s recent devastation. If dealing with the toll of the damage alone is not daunting enough, many individuals can fall prey to unscrupulous contractors. These heartless scammers try to take advantage of a challenging, emotional situation for personal gain. While you cannot prevent the path of a storm, you can protect yourself from these far too common predatory hurricane cleanup scams.
Follow these simple tips to help ensure you select an honest, legitimate contractor and avoid the throngs of Storm Chasers just looking to make a quick buck:
Folks certainly don’t call these heartless swindlers Storm Chasers for nothing! Unethical contractors must continually seek business in new storm-impacted areas to avoid facing responsibility for their predatory actions. Dealing with established, local contractors, is almost always a safer bet. Spending locally can take more time in storm-impacted areas, but the wait is often worth the result. Remember to ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations based on their own experiences!
Learn Local Licensing Requirements:
Anyone hiring a contractor to work in their home should familiarize themselves with the licensing requirements in their area BEFORE interviewing potential workers. You can find a list of relevant state consumer protection agencies here.
Research Potential Hires’ Licenses:
Once you are familiar with the licensing requirements in your area, ensure that anyone performing work for you is fully licensed.
Never sign anything BEFORE you research a contractor’s license.
Request a physical copy of their license upon arrival at your property.
Don’t trust the contractor’s word alone and always confirm everything.
Contact the appropriate license regulatory board to confirm the company’s license is active and in good standing.
In addition to a license, contractors also need to be insured to protect you from getting stuck with the bill in the event problems arise.
Request physical proof of insurance listing their coverage liability limits.
Call the contractor’s insurer and confirm any information they provided.
Check, Check, Check and CHECK AGAIN:
There is no substitute for good old-fashioned effort when it comes to researching potential contractors. Following a serious storm, individuals often want damage repaired as quickly as possible to help restore feelings of normalcy. While certain areas must be addressed immediately for safety, the more you research in advance, the less likely you are to fall victim to predatory contractors.