Living in Florida, you've probably seen a number of hurricanes in your lifetime. Not too long after you head out to survey the damage the storm had caused to your home, contractors can be seen circulating your community or posting advertisements for their services online and in other public spaces seeing if you need any help with repairs. It's then that you've most vulnerable to being scammed.
More often than not, the dishonest variety of contractor will initially agree to perform a certain job quickly and at a reduced rate, in comparison with others. To get started right away, they'll ask you to pay them in cash up front to get necessary supplies or tools. Although they promise to show back up not too long thereafter to get started on the job at hand, they don't and instead disappear, never be heard from again.
In many cases, you as a homeowner, may feel forced to agree to do business with these scammers as a result of local contractors being overburdened by work in the wake of a natural disaster. Even then, though, it's important that, if you note certain red flags, that you avoid doing business with these type contractors at all costs.
Among the red flags, if a contractor is unwilling to put your agreement in writing, then it is important to look for someone else. Additionally, any contractor that is interested in being paid only by cash, who is overly pushy in making a sale, or asks for more than one third of the full agreed-to project cost upfront are all factors that should perhaps be seen as making a contractor undesirable to deal with too.
Waiting and dealing with a local contractor, in contrast, carries with it many benefits, the most important of which is that the company, most likely, has a reputation to live up to. In dealing with a local company, you can check the business' reputation or licenses with local or state government authorities, visit their offices or get references. They're also more liable to have worker's compensation and liability insurance as well.
If you find yourself in a dispute with a contractor, a Melbourne, Florida, construction litigation attorney can provide you with advice in your legal matter.
Source: Houselogic.com, "Tips to avoid contractor scams after storm damage," Mich Lipka, accessed April 12, 2017