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Avoid hurricane clean-up scams

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After natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, unlicensed contractors and scammers often come into the affected area promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some demand payment up-front for work they never do. Others simply lack the skills, licenses, and insurance to legally do the work.

Here are some tips to protect yourself, your property, and your money:

  • Check with local consumer protection officials to find out whether tree and debris removal contractors need to be licensed in your area. If so, check out the license for the contractor you’re considering. Never sign any document or pay any contractor before verifying their license.
  • Ask contractors for references and, if possible, call previous clients. Talk with your neighbors about what they’re paying for similar work.
  • Write down the contractor’s driver’s license and vehicle information (make, model, and license plate number) in case you need to report the contractor to authorities.
  • Ask a contractor to give you 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 insurance company to confirm.
  • Get a written estimate and sign a written contract. Make sure it includes a description of the work, the materials included, when the work will be finished, the price, and the address and phone number of the contractor. Read all contracts and make sure all the blanks are filled in before you sign.
  • Pay with a credit card or check so you can dispute charge or cancel the payment if there are problems later. Be wary of contractors who ask you to pay them in cash – even for a deposit. Negotiate a reasonable down payment, and only pay in full when the work is done to your satisfaction.
  • Trust your gut. If you have any doubts about hiring someone, take your business elsewhere.
  • If you have second thoughts about the contractor you hired, you have the right to cancel a contract within three days if you signed it in your home or at a seller’s temporary location, like a hotel room, convention center, or restaurant.

For more information, visit Dealing with Weather Emergencies.


Tagged with: disaster, home, scam, weather
Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages


A great site providing great information. Thanks!

These people make me sick, they will stoop to the lowest to steal money, they have no morals but time and time again they get away with it and do it again and again.

useful information, i'm glad I took the time to read it.

unless they are locked up in jail with hard labour they will not change . To scam people in a disaster, thats what they deserve

Thank you for this information.

EXcellent information, well presented. Thank you!

This scam was tried on me a few years ago. After Sandy some of the homes in area were damaged and a few destroyed by falling trees. We lost power for 4 days and as soon as it came back on a company from Texas(I'm in PA) called and said they wanted to come by and inspect my home. I declined since I dodged the bullet but he insisted I may not see the damage done to my roof and even if there wasn't any damage that they had a "tool" to make it look like there was storm damage. I asked him if he was asking me to commit insurance fraud? Not only was he trying to scam me but also asking me to be complicit in a crime. He never answered my question and promptly hung up. This would not happen today since I never would have answered the call.

its true you peoples are great.

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