Spot the Scam!
In times of natural disasters, Americans band together to help each other protect lives and property and rebuild shattered communities. Unfortunately, however, con artists take advantage of tragedy by scamming property owners on repairs. That’s why New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a warning to residents of his state to be aware of unscrupulous individuals and companies seeking to make a quick buck from flood damage in Long Island caused by Superstorm Sandy. Insurance Journal recently reported that the governor said that, “Unfortunately, unscrupulous home repair scam artists often come out of the woodwork in the aftermath of major storms and try to take advantage of their neighbors. There are a number of steps that homeowners can take to avoid these schemes and help ensure they are engaging with reputable businesses.”
There is no one tactic that scam artists use, but property owners should be wary of unsolicited phone calls and visits by people claiming to be contractors. Of course, not all repair experts who market their services in this way are dishonest, but these kinds of behaviors can be red flags. In addition, people should avoid signing same-day contracts, especially if the provider claims that it is a one-day-only offer. And of course property owners should refuse to pay contractors up front even before work is started – especially in cash.
Of course, the best way for consumers to protect themselves is to make sure that the contractors that they work with are reputable. Online review sites are great resources to start with, as are thorough reference checks and calling county and state officials to see if contractors have licenses or are in good standing. As in any transaction, there is no 100% foolproof way to spot a dishonest vendor, but by taking a few basic steps before signing a contract property owners can give themselves peace of mind and proceed with their repair projects with confidence.
For more information, contact Jake Morin @ ProSight Specialty Insurance.