Scambuster: After Natural Disaster, Watch For Fake Contractors

HURRICANE DAMAGE PIC

(WKRG) — Even though it looks like Irma is not heading our way, we may see a natural disaster sometime this hurricane season. If that happens, folks should beware of scammers acting as contractors.

Possibly one of the worst times in anyone’s life is coming home to storm damage. You’re at a loss and don’t know where to start picking up the pieces.

This is a time, however, when scammers love to strike.

“They’re simply fly by night, just trying to scam you out of money,” says Sgt. Josh Rhodes with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.

They hit you when you’re at your lowest, acting as contractors and offering to help fix your roof, windows or siding.

“A lot of times they won’t even do the work. They’ll get you to give them money up front and they either don’t show up for the job or they’ll do a terrible job,” says Rhodes.

One way to tell it’s a scam is if they’re going door to door.

After a natural disaster, a real contractor simply won’t have the time to walk through a neighborhood, knocking door to door and asking for work.

“They’re busy, they’re tied up and that’s why these people move in because they’re looking to take advantage of you,” says Rhodes.

Here are other red flags:

  1. If they pressure you to make a decision right away
  2. If they demand the entire cost upfront–a real contractor will charge you a 20% deposit, which is normal
  3. If they can’t show you a license or proof of insurance
  4. If they insist you pay cash

Be sure to check out a person’s credentials before hiring them because they could be here one day and gone the next with your money.

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