21 Feb Scams in the Wake of Disaster
It is an unfortunate truth that many scammers and swindlers attempt to take advantage of disaster victims with disaster scams. New Orleans homeowners are no strangers to scams of this kind. Hurricane Katrina saw one of the worst waves of disaster fraud that the US has ever experienced. By 2011, 1,439 people were charged with fraud-related crimes during Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Those affected by the strong storms and tornadoes on February 7th should be especially careful when selecting a contractor or home repair business.
Types of scams:
- Collecting a down payment and then never coming back to start work
- Never completing a job
- Performing mediocre work using questionable materials that are not up to code
The dead giveaway that a contractor is a phony is if he or she approaches you without being provoked. If a person offers you services without you asking, this person might be trying to scam you. Another way to tell if someone is a “storm chaser” is by evaluating their vehicle. If the vehicle has no company name or phone – that is a red flag. An out-of-state license plate is also a cause for concern.
How to avoid disaster scams:
- Never pay a down payment in cash, pay with check or credit card instead
- Explore your options and get more than one estimate
- Collect references and check them
- Check the contractor’s background
- Get a written contract that lists the specific work to be done, costs, materials to be used, start and completion dates, and warranty information on products and installation.
Remember that there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work, especially when you did not request it. AWS will honor its policy! Remember that you can always speak with an agent at AWS if you are curious about what your policy covers.