Contractor Fraud Awareness Week is here!
From 12 to 16 July, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) highlights the problem of contractors and suppliers exploiting disaster victims in the aftermath of disasters.
In the hope that vulnerable homeowners are more concerned about their family's safety than about entering into a contract with a fine-combed comb, some contractors and suppliers may pressure people to hire them with fancy outlets and suspiciously good prices.
After the homeowner signs the contract, these scams either complete the work with shady materials or, if they could get the money in advance, skip the city without having done the job at all.
Entrepreneurial fraud is a multi-billion dollar problem and the NICB encourages homeowners to follow these tips in the wake of a natural disaster:
1. If it's too good to be true, it probably is! Unscrupulous entrepreneurs lurk in the wake of hurricanes and hail in hopes of getting homeowners moving. Be suspicious of all contractors approaching you after the storm and always call your insurance before making repairs.
2. Let's see some ID. Ask any contractor or seller for their driver's license, license plate, state contractor's license and insurance certificate. Do not be afraid to ask for references or search the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints regarding the contractor.
3. Be a knowledgeable shopper. Obtain estimates from several contractors before performing repairs. Intrusive salespeople often force you to sign immediately, but by taking the time and weighing your options, you can get quality work done at the best possible price.
4. Read the fine print. Make sure that all contracts you sign contain EVERYTHING in writing. The cost of the work, schedules, payment schedules, guarantees, work to be performed and other expectations should all be detailed. Look for empty spaces. Shady contractors can fill these in after you sign!
5. Good entrepreneurs show their work. Do not sign a contract that requires you to pay for the work before it is ready. This allows fraudsters to take your money and skip the city without doing the job.
For more information on entrepreneurial fraud and how to avoid becoming a victim, visit the Contractor Fraud Awareness Week page on the NICB's website.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of contractor fraud or you have seen contractors and suppliers visiting residential areas affected by a disaster, call the NICB at 800.TEL.NICB or fill out their online form.
Content licensed by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
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