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How to Protect Yourself from "Storm Chaser" Contractors

November 13, 2012 1:28 am

After storms like Hurricane Sandy, it is not uncommon for fraudulent "storm chaser" contractors to flock to damaged neighborhoods offering to help with home repairs. Unfortunately, homeowners in affected regions could soon be inundated with these fraudulent contractors knocking on their doors.  Additionally, states sometimes ease licensing requirements to meet demand, which can bring in fly-by-night contractors. 

"After any natural disaster there is an increase in storm-chasing contractors attempting to take advantage of distressed homeowners," said HomeAdvisor CEO Chris Terrill. "Post-Sandy, we have seen an 87 percent increase - as compared to what we saw after Hurricane Irene - in requests for generator installation, roof repair, tree removal and siding repair in the areas most heavily impacted by the storm.

Since these repair categories are in such high demand, we anticipate storm chasers to target these specific tasks and homeowners should be on alert in the coming weeks."
HomeAdvisor's Four Warning Signs a Contractor May Not Be Reputable: 
  • The most common contractor fraud involves "storm chasers" that go door-to-door soliciting work they never plan to provide. Don't accept offers from any traveling or door-to-door salespeople. 
  • A reputable contractor will never ask for cash and will never require that the entire job be paid "up front." 
  • Be wary of contractors who use scare tactics such as signing for repairs that they say are urgent. Before agreeing to any additional costly repairs, seek other opinions. 
  • Get written estimates and don't always go with the cheapest price. Dramatically cheaper prices may indicate contractor fraud is present in one form or another.  
Four Questions Homeowners Should Ask a Contractor Before Signing an Agreement: 
  • How long have you been in business? 
  • Are you licensed and registered with the state? 
  • Can you provide a list of references? 
  • Do you belong to any professional associations? 
Source: HomeAdvisor

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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