CAUTION: Contract work scammers seeking victims after Harvey, what to do to protect yourself

CAUTION: Contract work scammers seeking victims after Harvey, what to do to protect yourself

BEVIL OAKS - With tens of thousands of people rebuilding, shoddy contractors are out stalking victims, and while many people lost their homes to the intense floods, thousands are in a threat to being victims of scams.
 
"You don't want to scam people,  they just lost everything so why go through that trouble," says David George, who lost his home to flood waters in Bevil Oaks area of Jefferson County.
 
His home was left in ruins with debris and nothing but frame walls.
 
"It's a process since we're waiting for FEMA," George says.
 
"We haven't heard from them at all," He explains.
 
Now he's being careful because there are people out there who take advantage of victims through scams.
 
"Not being from here scares me because I don't know who to talk to or what road to go through," George says. 
 
"You just basically follow the people around the neighborhood and start from there," he explains.
 
That's why the Better Business Bureau says it's important to be cautious.
 
Here's how, verify permits before handing out your money, get at least 3 to 4 quotes from contractors, and insist that payments are made to companies instead of individuals.
 
It is also important to get a written contract specifying the price, work to be done, time frame, and their current certificate of insurance.
 
"Some of the neighbors tell you to be aware of bad contract workers, so you just follow," he says.
 
Now he's taking note of this advice as he hopes for a fast recovery.
 
"I'm going to start calling contractors to look at what we've got, then go from there," George says.
 
"We're going to build back strong," he explains.
 
Despite being broken down like the walls of his home, George tells us that the last thing he wants is to lose the little money he has left after the storm to a scammer.

 

Your BBB offers the following tips for storm victims:

 

  • Only specialty contractors, including HVAC, fire sprinkler systems, plumbing, electricians and well drilling/pump installation specialists, are required to be licensed in Texas. Verify licensing here before hiring a business: https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/licenses.htm or call 800-803-9202. Home remodeling contractors do not require licensing in the state of Texas. Search bbb.org to verify facts about the business or call us directly at 409-835-5951.

 

  • Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if sales people go door-to-door.  Verify that they need to have a permit by contacting your local Township or Municipality. BBB suggests consumers be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not re-active to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches.

 

  • While most roofing contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know inspect your roof. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work.

 

  • Try to get at least 3-4 quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.

 

  • Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment upfront. 

 

  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.

 

  • Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor, and a time frame. Require a copy of their current certificate of insurance.

 

  • Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.

 

  • Check that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name, phone number and license plates for your state.

 

© 2017 KBMT-TV


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