As survivors of the Colorado floods continue to recover, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials warn of danger lurking around the corner. Disreputable contractors may try to take advantage of disaster survivors.
FEMA offers a few suggestions to protect against fraud when hiring a contractor:
• Never allow an uninvited contractor into a home to “look around” or make an “inspection.”
• Use a licensed local contractor backed by reliable references. Before you hire a contractor, check the company’s business history with the Better Business Bureau.
• Get a written estimate from at least three contractors. The estimate should include the cost of labor and materials. Make sure the contract clearly states who will obtain the necessary permits. Read the fine print before signing.
• Demand the contractors carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation. If a contractor is not insured, the homeowner may be liable for accidents.
• Have the work inspected by local code enforcement officials or a home inspector. Make sure all the work is completed as agreed in the contract before any completion papers are signed or final payment is issued.
• Get receipts from the contractor for all items related to the home repairs.
Call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 if fraud is suspected. Complaints can also be made to local law enforcement agencies or to the Colorado Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Line at 800-222-4444 or filing an online report at coloradoattorneygeneral.gov