Hurricane Irene recently did major damage to homes along the eastern seaboard. Now, state officials are warning homeowners affected by Hurricane Irene to be on the lookout for even further financial damage by scam contractors. Much like in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, contractor fraud could escalate in the coming months.
According to the Associated Press, the Louisiana Attorney General’s office received over 6,000 complaints about unscrupulous contractors after Hurricane Katrina. In the previous year, there were only 150 complaints about contractors. A common contractor scam is to ask for money upfront and then not show up to perform the work. According to Louisiana State University, 61 percent of homeowners fell prey to paying upfront and the contractor failing to return.
Other contractors will use poor-quality materials and pocket the difference in price for what high-quality materials would cost. In the LSU study, this cost Katrina homeowners up to $30,000.
The consumer website Angie’s List advises homeowners to be suspicious of any contractor that rushes you to make a decision. And those contractors who say they are backed by the federal government – it’s a lie. The government does not endorse any individual contractors.
Ask to see a contractor’s driver’s license and make sure to get their license plate number too. Another red flag is if the contractor does not want you to contact your insurance company.
Colson Hicks Eidson – Florida lawyers