NICB Urges Homeowners To Use Caution And Avoid Post-Disaster Fraud As They Begin The Rebuilding Process
DES PLAINES, Ill., August 22, 2022 — Following record-breaking rain, life-threatening flooding, and scorching wildfires throughout the nation, homeowners left picking up the pieces could be victimized a second time by dishonest contractors looking to make a quick, corrupt buck.
Following a disaster, victims are understandably shocked by the damage and possible loss of their homes and possessions. This is the time where bad actors prey on the vulnerable by arriving at their doorsteps, often unsolicited, and press homeowners into paying out their insurance claim prior to the repairs being completed. Once the payment has been collected, fraudulent contractors disappear without completing the work that was promised.
“Recovering from a disaster is an intimidating task, and homeowners should not be victimized twice,” said NICB president and CEO David Glawe. “Dishonest contractors further complicate the situation by exploiting victims at the expense of homeowners and insurance providers resulting in higher insurance costs for everyone.”
Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company. There is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work, especially if it was not requested.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (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.
- Request references and do the research.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
- Look out for out-of-state contractor licenses, as well as out-of-state vehicle registrations, as these may also indicate possible fraudulent contractors.
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished.
- 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 language of your insurance policy.
- Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
- Remember, if you didn’t request it, reject it!
Furthermore, some deceitful contractors will state they are supported by the government. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors or loan agencies. Consumers should call FEMA for more specifics at (800) 621-FEMA.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, call the NICB at 1-800-TEL-NICB. For additional information on hiring contractors, follow this link.