SOUTHWEST FLORIDA – In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, many Floridians saw their property severely damages. Restoration of property is going to become a major priority for homeowners.
However, how to you avoid being scammed by a phony contractor? Natural disasters can create opportunities for fraudulent contractors to take advantage of our residents who are eagerly looking for assistance with cleanup and repairs.
The Cape Coral Police Department passed along these helpful reminders that anyone in Southwest Florida could use to protect yourself when looking for a trusted contractor.
Make sure that your contractor is appropriately licensed for the work being conducted. You can always verify licensure yourself through the Florida DBPR website.All licensed contractors are required to have their license number on all business cards, contracts, estimates, vehicles, etc.Make sure that your contractor carries workman’s compensation and insurance coverage – which could become a liability to the homeowner if the service does not have coverage and an injury and/or additional damage occurs on your propertyAlways verify that subcontracting companies are actually authorized to perform work under a licensed company/business
Other tips that the Cape Coral Police Department recommends:
If you receive unsolicited phone calls or door-to-door visits, please verify that the person actually works for the company offering to perform workWhen entering into a contract, make sure it is a legitimate contract that details the work to be performed and the expected price to be paidDo NOT pay the full price upfront, only pay a deposit for the work to be performedDo NOT make final payment until work has been completed and inspectedAlways get receipts for any payments made to a contractorRetain all copies of contracts, agreements, receipts, and change ordersIt is recommended to not pay cash and use a form of payment that can show proof of payment, i.e., checks, cashier’s checks, etc.Know what documents you are signing and ask questions. If you need to, confirm with an attorney that the documents you are agreeing to are in your best interest
Residents can also verify the license of an adjustor or attorney through the Florida Department of Financial Services website, at http://www.myfloridacfo.com
The Federal Communications Center (FCC) provides information on avoiding Disaster-Related Scams, which can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/after_storms_watch_out_for_scams.pdf