|By Zlati Meyer, Detroit Free Press|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Thousands of businesses and homeowners across southeastern
Even without a water-logged crisis to upend people's lives, home improvement and repair is an area ripe for cons. According to the
"The opportunity is there for a lot of people who will need repairs to their homes and there are unfortunately a lot of unscrupulous people who will take advantage of that -- take money from them and either never do the work or do shoddy work," said
Potential signs of trouble: The contractor will either want upfront payment or insist that you must sign a contract allowing the business to negotiate with your homeowners insurance company on your behalf. But if you do this, the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan & the
"In more extreme cases, contractors may simply take your payment, completing part or none of the work, and disappear," the BBB said.
The organization explained that even if you have insurance, it may be best to get three or four quotes. Do not be pressured into making a decision immediately. Get references from customers who had work done a year or two ago, so you know if the job held up. Check www.bbb.org to read about any past complaints or other issues.
And always get a written contract that spells out the price, when the job will be done and what materials will be used. "The more detail, the better," the BBB said.
On Thursday, state Attorney General
"In the wake of disasters, scam artists will pop up, often impersonating utility workers and contractors," he said in a written statement. "Ask to see the ID of anyone who asks to enter your home or business unannounced, and verify their identity with proper authorities or the company they claim to represent."
"I went through the Yellow Pages the night of the flood and made 15 phone calls. You're playing beat the clock," she recalled. "When he gave me the quote ... I called my insurance company and asked if it sounds reasonable. I'm a novice. I wouldn't sign any document until I spoke to them."