Seven Steps to Avoid Contractor Fraud

This latest brush with Tropical Storm ETA reminded us how vulnerable we are to strong storms and hurricanes in our region. And when a storm passes – whether a strong afternoon thunderstorm or major hurricane, dishonest fraudsters and contractors often come out and prey upon homeowners and business owners whose property was damaged. These individuals often go door-to-door looking to capitalize on people in desperate need of repairs. While most contractors are legitimate and work to the best of their ability, there are others who make false promises, demand up-front payments and never start or finish the actual work.

First and foremost, only entrust the work being done on your home or business to a licensed and reputable contractor. Before signing any contracts, make sure your insurance carrier verifies what repairs are necessary.

 

Acle Law offers the following seven steps to avoid contractor fraud after a hurricane or local South Florida storm.

 

1 – Know the Warning Signs: Reputable contractors do not typically solicit business door-to-door. Watch for people who pressure you into signing a contract and demand full or partial payment up front.

 

2 – Contact your Insurance Carrier: File your claim first and let your insurer verify what repairs are necessary before signing any contracts. Then find a licensed contractor to make the repairs.

 

3 – Verify Insurance and Licenses: Make sure the contractor you hire has liability and worker compensation insurance. Florida residents can check the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

 

4 – Obtain Multiple Bids and Check References: At a minimum, get three written estimates for the work and compare them. Also require the contractor to provide you with references.

 

5 – Check for Complaints: Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against the contractor. It’s also a good idea to see if they have any social media or internet reviews as well.

 

6 – Never Pay In-Full Upfront: Pay for the work in installments as the job is completed. Use check or credit card so you have a record of payment instead of cash. Verify all work was completed before paying any invoice.

 

7 – Get a Written Contract: Always get a written contract that clearly states all the work the contractor will do, including all prices for labor and materials. Make sure it includes estimated start and finish dates. Never sign a contract that has blanks in it that a contractor can fill in later.

 

Insurance policies can be confusing and overwhelming. In order to avoid unnecessary confusion, you should contact an experienced Florida insurance claims attorney. We will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation.

 

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