Some people posing as contractors are trying to take your money and leave you without repairs.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Snow and ice created complications such as installation problems, roof damage, and electrical problems for many of us. The wait for a repair person can be long, but it may be worth the wait.
“Fraud attempts are made in person, door-to-door, over the phone or by email. You will be posing as a legitimate contractor many times. They will try to capitalize on an existing company’s reputation and claim to be FEMA, ”said Jason Meza, the regional director of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). “They are trying to get in the door and get a payment from you.”
FEMA warns against certifying contractors. Also, be careful about unsolicited help.
“You have to look out for door-to-door salespeople,” Meza said. “You are under a lot of pressure. Usually arrive on time. You know exactly what you are going through. “
See how they ask you to pay. FEMA said you shouldn’t send money or pay with gift cards. Also, never do this:
“Never pay upfront for any repairs,” Meza said. “Don’t pay with cash. They want some money to go away with an agreement. You may never show up for the repairs. “
Ask in writing for a price and read the contract. FEMA said it should ensure that the contract accurately details all of the work done, the cost, a scheduled completion date, the way changes will be negotiated and disputes will be resolved.
“Don’t leave any gaps,” said Meza. “We see people leave spaces all the time and the contractor come in and write things afterwards and they build up the cost again.”
Make sure a contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured. Watch out for this tactic: It’s illegal for a contractor to offer to waive an insurance deduction for a listing, Meza said. Also, check out the three Rs: Ratings, Referrals, and Reputation. FEMA turned down offers that are too good to be true. Make sure you get at least three estimates.
“You want to measure it by what the work is, the scope, the timing,” Meza said. “What are they going to charge for overtime by the hour?”
Know that contractors need to offer a cancellation notification when the transaction takes place at your home.
“It gives you the option or the right to change your mind within three days,” Meza said.
Do your own research which materials are the best and ask the contractor what materials they would like to use for your work.
“If you just really learn about the project itself, you can ask the right questions,” Meza said.
You should also document your contractor. FEMA suggested taking a photo of your contractor, his vehicle, license plate and business card.
Before you guarantee them work, ask if their work is guaranteed. FEMA said customers should demand satisfaction and not sign closing papers or make any final payment until the job is properly done.
Report a concern to the BBB and the Texas Attorney General’s Office at 800-621-0508.