Natural disasters are something that brings whole communities together – and attract people with ill intentions. After every major natural disaster, there are stories of bogus contractors offering to fix people’s homes, but taking the money and never returning to do the work. Likewise, there are stories of looters storming into damaged homes and stealing what they can. While some people lose everything they’ve worked hard for over the years, others are quick to take advantage of people at their worst.
While your emotional strength may be weakening quickly in the days after a disaster, knowing a few simple warning signs of bogus contractors might help keep you from an even bigger disaster.
All of Century Construction’s trucks are clearly marked with our logo, and any other reputable local contractor – big or small – should also have clearly labeled vehicles. A crew pulling up in an unmarked or unkempt vehicle could be a warning sign this contractor isn’t from Magnolia, and may not have the best intentions.
If you do hire a crew that shows up in an unmarked vehicle, or with an out-of-state license plate, it is a good idea to jot down the license plate number and vehicle description just in case. If something does go awry at some point during the disaster reconstruction project, that information will help law enforcement track down the dishonest contractor.
Other warning signs when there is no visible logo would be not having a local phone number, not having a website, and not even having labeled business cards.
No proof of insurance or licenses
In many states, contractors have to be licensed to work in that area. Not having a license is another major red flag. For reputable contractors, it is a minor business detail to have all the appropriate paperwork in the vehicles – including licenses, proof of insurance, etc.
You should ask similar questions about any subcontractors the company will use at your home or business.
While you might feel pressured to hire a contractor on the spot, if there are some warning signs, doing a quick check on your smartphone of the company’s ratings on the Better Business Bureau’s website could be very telling. Be on the lookout for any negative or unresolved reviews.
Offers to do work for
If you’ve been speaking with multiple contractors and suddenly meet someone guaranteeing to do the work for far less than the other guys, beware.
Demanding the project is paid in full at the start.
Never ever ever ever pay a contractor in full before they even get to work. It is normal for the contractor to ask for a 20 percent or less deposit to get to work, then request perhaps another percentage as the project progresses. But you should never be asked to pay in full until the entire reconstruction is complete, and you are pleased with the outcome.
Plus, whenever you do pay any money toward the project, be sure to get a receipt for your documents.