Avoiding Contractor Scams
Every year, many homes and commercial buildings are damaged by severe storms. Property owners become the victims of unlicensed, uninsured, inexperienced contractors and outright scammers who come to prey on uninformed people.
Poor quality contractors and scammers can cause permanent damage, devalue your property, steal your money and put you at personal, legal and financial risk... not to mention all the headaches!
Many scams begin with a knock at your door, or an unsolicited call on the phone, claiming to be a contractor. Unfortunately, many scam companies imitate legitimate contractors, so protect yourself by checking your contractor out, before agreeing to an inspection.
Make sure any contractor you work with is properly licensed, insured, and provides 3 local references. For your protection, the NSDC maintains a database of highly rated contractors experienced with storm restoration work.
Scam Warning Signs
The following list represents the most common indicators that the person or company you are speaking with might be running a scam.
- Not properly licensed
- No insurance or under-insured
- No local office (beware of P.O. boxes and hotel addresses)
- Won't provide local references
- Demands up-front cash or deposit
- Shows up on convicted criminals and/or sex offenders list
Many excellent storm restoration companies have multiple offices around the country, or travel to work in hard hit storm areas. Just because a contractor is from out of state, it is not necessarily a reason to worry. However, as with any contractor you hire, you'll want to do your homework and check the contractor out before signing a contingency agreement or contract to do any work on your property.
If you decide to hire a contractor that is based out of state, make sure they have a local office, or reciprocal relationship with a local contractor, who will perform warranty repairs, if your contractor should leave the state. It is important to remember your workmanship warranty is worthless, if your out-of-state contractor leaves the state and does not have a local representative to honor the warranty.
Storm Chaser Scam Warning Signs
Storm chasers are like ambulance chasers. They flock to areas of the country that have been recently hit by damaging storms and attempt to scam people that are in need of serious help
- A temporary office or P.O. box
- Out-of-state phone numbers
- Out-of-state license plates
- Staying in a hotel, or motel
- No local references
- Don't know your area
You can avoid scams by working with one of the highly rated and experienced storm restoration contractors listed in our free directory. Find an experienced contractor and receive a free damage inspection now.