DES PLAINES, Ill., December 17, 2020 — As the Pinellas Park area recovers from the damage caused by powerful winds and tornadoes, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reminds consumers that in the aftermath, homeowners should remain alert to potential fraud by deceitful contractors and home repair businesses.
After a disaster, shady contractors often go door-to-door offering clean up and/or construction and repair services. Most are reputable, but some are not. One common scheme is to pocket a down-payment and then never show up for the job, or never complete a job that was started. Another scheme is to use inferior materials and perform shoddy work in order to increase profit.
“If you didn’t request it, reject it.”
Almost all scams are unsolicited—they begin with a visit from a contractor who seeks to help victims rebuild. That is why NICB recommends that “if you didn’t request it, reject it.” Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company. Your insurer will honor its policy so there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it.
NICB suggests you consider these tips before hiring a contractor:
- Get more than one estimate.
- Get everything in writing; cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed.
- Demand references and check them out.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms could be added later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
- Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
- Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language.
- Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
For a free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud, click here.