Here are some ways to avoid getting scammed by contractor fraud in the aftermath of a hurricane:
- Be wary of contractors who solicit door-to-door. Work only with established contractors and those who have a solid reputation.
- Work only with licensed, bonded and insured contractors and have them provide you with documentation.
- Require references and check them out.
- Check with your local
Better Business Bureauto see if any complaints have been filed against contractors you are considering. Victims of contractor fraud often file complaints.
- Don't feel pressured into signing a contract, and never sign a contract with blanks. A contract should include the contractor's name, business name, phone number and address.
- Avoid payment-in-full up front. Some contractors may require a partial up front payment, but the amount should not exceed approximately 20% of the total estimate amount.
- Never let work begin on your home or business until the contract is finalized.
- Don't pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the job is completed and you are satisfied with the work — avoid making cash payments.
- If anyone performs unauthorized work on your property and demands payment, consider contacting authorities.
- Never let anyone persuade you to seek reimbursement for nonexistent or exaggerated losses or damages. This is insurance fraud, which is a felony.
Allstate policyholders who have damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew can file a claim by contacting their agent, calling 1-800-54-STORM, visiting a Mobile Claims Center or logging onto Allstate.com.
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