5 Ways To Avoid Post-Hurricane Scams In The Daytona Beach Area
During hurricane season in Florida and the Daytona Beach area, homeowners can find their lives turned upside down by severe property damage. Not long after a storm, contractors can be seen all over, performing repairs and offering services to help property owners get back on their feet. Not all contractors arrive with good intentions, however, and scams are a constant problem in Florida after stormy weather. The following are some recommended tips to avoid a scam happening to you and your family:
- Exercise caution with door-to-door repair contractors. After a storm, Floridians can usually count on seeing contractors and roof-repair services knocking on doors and posting flyers. Usually, they will promise fast results and great bargains, but no guarantees for the quality of their work. Often, these scams will prey on elderly and vulnerable individuals that feel stress and pressure due to the storm damage. Scammers will make promises they can’t keep to separate people from their money in these situations. Honest and reputable contractors usually have enough clientele that they don’t need to knock on doors to drum up business. In these situations, it is almost always a better bet to call around and find a contractor with a strong track record and positive reviews online.
- Don’t make large cash payments up front to a contractor promising to make repairs. Fly-by-night scam artists will frequently promise contracting services at bargain rates, but ask for cash up front to purchase materials. Next thing you know, they – and your money – are gone. Reputable contractors may request a partial payment up front, which is reasonable, but will provide a contract for their services and accept checks or electronic payments. These measures provide some measure of security for both the customer and the contractor if things go wrong with the project.
- Go local with your business. Florida usually sees many out-of-town or out-of-state contractors in the area after a storm. These contractors may be legitimate, but if they aren’t, or they take your money and fail to complete the job, it can be difficult if not impossible to track them down later. A local contractor should be able to perform the same job and provide you with peace of mind at the same time. A local business has a reputation to uphold and a place in the area’s business community, so they are far less likely to run scams on unsuspecting homeowners.
- Compare estimates and get your contract in writing. One big mistake a homeowner can make – either through an unknown, fly-by-night contractor or a reputable local business – is to agree to the first estimate they receive. There may be another contractor that can provide a different or better rate, or offer more services at a similar rate. You want to take some time to review and compare, because the repair of your home is not just a financial decision – it affects the future of your home and well-being. Once you do have an acceptable estimate and you have researched the business, make sure they can provide a contract that covers all services and materials involved in the project. This should also include a completion schedule, overall costs and payment schedules if anything is paid up front or in the middle of the project. Should problems occur, you have a contract to fall back on if you need to pursue legal remedies in court.
- Do your background research. You will of course want to check online reviews through a company’s website, services such as Yelp and the Better Business Bureau, and social media sources. You also want to make sure the company is licensed and insured, and search corporate records with the State of Florida if they are an LLC or some other formal business entity. If you have referrals from friends or family, those usually help as well. In any case, you want to do as much digging as you can before you trust somebody to work on the place where you live. If you can’t find anything online for the contractor (or anything positive), that can be a major red flag.
Following these steps and doing your due diligence when hiring a contractor can avoid many problems down the road. A sham contracting job can cost you thousands of dollars and leave you with a home that still needs fixing. It can also lead to problems having your insurer cover the repairs, and potential legal issues that a Florida property damage attorney may need to assist with.
Our Daytona, Florida Property Damage Attorneys Will Help You in Your Property Damage Insurance Claim, and Can Help You Fight Back Against Scam Artists
If you run into any questions or issues during the insurance claim process – including issues with repairs and contracting services – do not hesitate to call the Daytona property damage attorneys at Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A.. We are thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the insurance claim process, including issues with contractors and what to do after an attempted business scam. Call our Daytona law offices at 386-252-5170, or schedule a consultation with our Daytona Beach property damage attorneys online for a free evaluation of your situation.