TAMPA. Fla. – As waters recede and when the power begins to come back on, residents will be surveying damage to their properties. The next step for many will be to find a contractor to make repairs. At this difficult time, the last thing a property owner needs is to fall victim to a scam. While most contractors are reputable, there are bad actors.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has developed a list of the six worst contractor scams that property owners may face. In addition, the Coalition offers six ways property owners can prevent costly contractor scams. Find out what scams to look for and how to avoid them below. Afterwards, find additional resources for hiring a professional roofing contractor and hiring a commercial electrical contractor are available at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) website.
Six Worst Contractor Scams
- Down Payment Disappears: Contractors can demand large down payments before making any repairs, then disappear after doing little to no work.
- Bad Quality: A contractor that produces low quality work, or uses cheap materials, can often leave you to redo repairs at your own expense.
- Phantom Damage: This occurs when a contractor invents damage caused by severe weather.
- Worsens Damage: Analyze your home before contacting a contractor, a common scam is to create damage in order to bill you for more work.
- Paying your Deductible: Contractors that offer to pay your insurance deductible can be a con just to lure your business.
- Contractors Working with your Insurer: Avoid losing control and oversight of your insurance claim by preventing your professional contractor from working directly with your insurer.
Six Ways To Avoid Contractor Scams
- Avoid Door-to-Door Inquiries: Hire reputable contractors that are based locally or in your region.
- Verify License: Be sure that your contractor is licensed by contacting your state and local licensing agencies.
- Conduct a Background Check: Does your contractor have a history of complaints? Find out be contacting your local Better Business Bureau, or by contacting your contractor’s past clients if possible.
- Work with your Insurer: Maintain direct communication with your insurer and avoid having your contractor do all of the talking.
- Sign a Contract: Sign a contract that specifies what will be done, how much it will cost, and when it will be done by.
- Watch for Red Flags: Does your contractor have no referrals or business cards? Do they use a P.O. Box instead of a street address? Can they show proof of workers compensation insurance or surety/performance bond? Be on the look out for things that might suggest they are not a reputable contractor that will perform quality work for a reasonable price.
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