Tips to Avoid Scams After Storms and Natural Disasters

(StatePoint) As if the damage from a natural disaster isn’t enough, consumers trying to rebuild after a natural disaster often face a different danger: a flood of fly-by-night contractors -- ultimately raising the risks of sub-par repair work and outright scams.

“Unfortunately, there are bad apples who blow into storm damaged areas and natural disaster locations with intentions to cheat and steal from consumers, making it harder for honest businesses and contractors to serve their communities the right way,” says Eric Miller, Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt. “It is more important than ever for buyers to beware and fully educate themselves before engaging with any contractor.”

According to many reports, hundreds of criminal cases are still pending due to fraudulent work in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Many properly licensed and insured contractors are providing counsel and repair to the thousands of homeowners and businesses hard hit by recent storms, but consumers need to watch out for those providing misleading quotes and services.

To help educate consumers on how to identify the right contractors to help them recover, while avoiding scammers and other potential pitfalls, Owens Corning Roofing and their network of independent Preferred Contractors have joined together to offer tips and advice.

• Know the basics. Understanding the basics of the damage to your home will help you avoid the worst cheaters and make you a better, more informed consumer. For example, if someone says your entire roof needs to be replaced but you are unsure, get a second opinion, especially on a newer roof.

• Make sure potential contractors are fully insured. Reduce your potential insurance risk by only working with insured contractors and make sure you get proof of Liability Insurance.

• Ensure proper licensing. To make sure the job is done right, ensure contractors carry the right licenses and know all the state and local codes and rules.

• Confirm potential contractors’ affiliations. A reputable contractor will take additional classes and earn certifications to be affiliated with a major national manufacturer. For example, those affiliated with Owens Corning, work to meet high standards and satisfy strict requirements, including a commitment to customer service, business stability and quality; carrying all required state and local licenses; holding at least $1,000,000 in general liability insurance; and going above and beyond local code, with things like proper product usage and nailing patterns.

• Check with the Better Business Bureau. Make sure potential contractors have a good reputation. Check to make sure they have no bankruptcy or leans on the business. You can find out through the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

Looking for a trustworthy and reliable contractor in your area, but don’t know where to start? Visit owenscorning.com for a list of reliable, vetted independent contractors in your area.

Don’t let a bad situation get worse. As you pick up the pieces after a storm or natural disaster, be sure to work with only reputable contractors who will do the job properly.

Photo Credit: (c) mokee81/stock.Adobe.com

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