Watch Out for Home Repair Scams after a Hurricane
Hurricane damage can be emotionally devastating. If you left during the storm, your heart might be in your throat as you drive back into town, only to see your home severely damaged. In addition to the financial costs, many people lose things of sentimental value, like pictures or videos of their children.
In this emotional state, it is very easy to fall prey to scammers. And one common scam after a hurricane involves people posing as contractors who approach hurricane victims and offer to fix their home. If you have suffered property damage, make sure to only deal with reputable contractors, and reach out to a Volusia County property damage attorney if you have a question.
Be Wary of People Who Approach You
Scammers don’t wait for people to reach out to them. Instead, they head out and actively solicit victims. Someone might approach you as you are out picking up debris on your law and introduce themselves. You should be skeptical. Remember, anyone can hold themselves out as a contractor. That doesn’t mean they actually are one.
Of course, having someone approach you does not mean 100% they are a scammer. Instead, take their name and contact information. You can then ask around and see if anyone has worked with the contractor. Florida sees plenty of hurricanes, so someone reputable has probably done work in the area. Do basic research online and look for complaints. You can also visit your local lumberyard and ask if they have done business with the contractor.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do—just call a reference provided by the contractor. This could be someone in on the scam. Instead, perform your own research. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable, then look for someone a neighbor or friend can vouch for.
Avoid Anyone claiming to be FEMA Endorsed
The fact is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, does not endorse contractors. A person who claims otherwise is a scammer, and you should report them to the police along with refusing to hire them.
Ask to See License & Insurance Information
Contractors in Florida are licensed by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board. A legitimate contractor should have a business insurance policy. You should request this information up front. If the contractor won’t give it, then look elsewhere.
Never Pay in Full Up Front
Scammers want full payment so they can abscond with the money without doing any work. Instead, come up with a payment schedule that makes sense. Your payments should be tied to certain benchmarks. Make sure the work has been done and done well before making a payment. The final installment should not be paid until the repair project has been completed.
Use a Credit Card to Pay the Contractor
If you are scammed, you can easily cancel your payment with a credit card. This is preferable to paying using cash, checks, or even a debit card, none of which provide the protections that a credit card can. Be wary of a contractor who only accepts cash.
Speak to a Daytona Beach Property Damage Attorney Today
At Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., our Daytona Beach hurricane insurance claims are proud of our reputation for providing tough advocacy for our clients, and we hope to have a chance to represent you, too. You can schedule a consultation by calling 386-252-5170.