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Be Wary of Construction Scams in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

After reporting on hurricanes for more than a decade, I can tell you one of the unfortunate realities is that unscrupulous contractors will absolutely try to take advantage of those with significant or even minor property damage in their quest to make a quick buck.

It happens after every one of these storms, no matter how big. While the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey cannot yet be fully known, one thing is for sure: You will see price gouging when it comes to all kinds of supplies as well as fly-by-night contractors trying to make off in the night with insurance settlement money.

Angie's list suggests avoiding door to door solicitations and, they say, always get multiple estimates:

Out-of-state companies often rush into disaster areas where widespread damage has occurred, looking to make a quick buck from unsuspecting homeowners, so be wary of door-to-door solicitors.

...Although it may be difficult with busy contractors dealing with a sheer number of other homeowners seeking repairs to their homes or property, don’t rush. Even in a crisis situation, it's important not to skip this step. Always get at least three estimates so you can make an apples-to-apples comparison.

The Angie's List full guide for avoiding such scams is right here.

The Better Business Bureau agrees and adds:

Know your rights and responsibilities. Check with your town or municipality to see what permits contractors need to work on your property. Check with your insurance company to make sure your liability insurance covers falls or injuries to contractors.

Don’t pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment upfront. Insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.

Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.

Get a written contract. Make sure it specifies the price, the work to be done and who will do it, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor, and a time frame. Require a copy of their current certificate of insurance.

More from the BBB is here