You have made it through a storm and now you are dealing with fraud. Fraud is something that happens all too often and many times we are not aware we are victims until it’s too late. Being aware of the “red flags” can help you avoid from being taken advantage of and give you peace of mind knowing you hired a reputable, licensed and insured contractor.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- Gather a list of licensed and insured contractors, ask for references and check them out.
- Do not pay in full before the work begins.
- Obtain written estimates for repair/replacement work and get more than one estimate.
- Do not pay final balance until the work is complete and you are satisfied.
- Never pay in cash.
- Keep all receipts, for a “paper trail.”
- Hire only licensed, insured contractors.
- Contractors are responsible for pulling permits, required for any kind of demolition, permanent repair, reconstruction, and roofing.
- Don’t be pressured into signing a contract immediately.
- Get everything in writing, such as:
- Total cost
- Detailed list of what is included in the project
- Time schedule, guarantees, and/or warranties provided
- Payment schedule
- Never sign a contract that includes blank spaces
- Carefully read any document before signing!
Remember, anyone can claim to be a general contractor or electrician. So, creating a list of licensed and insured workers before a storm is key to avoiding fraud. Be cautious of anyone coming to your home uninvited and offering services and repairs.
If you suspect fraud, contact the State of Florida Consumer Fraud Hotline at (866) 966-7226.
Learn more at:
- Disaster Preparedness — UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County
- Hurricane Preparedness — Sarasota County website
- The American Red Cross.