Debris Clean-Up and Removal Scams After a Weather Emergency
After natural disasters, unlicensed contractors and scammers often come into the affected area promising quick repairs at discount prices. Always ask contractors for references and call previous clients. Write down the driver’s license and vehicle information (make, model, and license plate number) in case you need to report the contractor to authorities.
Be skeptical of people promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some may demand payment up-front for work they never do, quote outrageous prices, or simply lack the skills, licenses, and insurance to legally do the work.
Some tips to protect yourself, your property, and your money:
- Check with local officials to find out whether tree and debris removal contractors need to be licensed in your area. If so, confirm that the license for the contractor you’re considering is current. Never sign any document or pay any contractor before verifying their license.
- Ask a contractor to provide their license and certificate of insurance once they are on your property. If a contractor tells you certain work is covered by your insurance, call your provider to confirm.
- Get a written estimate and sign a written contract that includes a description of the work to be performed, what materials are included, when the work will be finished, the price, and the address and phone number of the contractor. Read all agreements carefully before you sign. Make sure all blanks in a bid or contract are filled in. Speak with your neighbors about what they are paying for similar work.
- Pay with a credit card or check, and be wary of contractors who ask for a deposit in cash or to be paid in cash. Negotiate a reasonable down payment with full payment to be made only upon satisfactory completion of work.
- Trust your gut. If you have any doubts about hiring someone or entering into a contract, take your business elsewhere.
For more information to help you cope in the event of a weather emergency, visit Dealing with Weather Emergencies.