Tips for Disaster Victims
When a disaster strikes our State, thousands of residents may suffer property damage. Of course, after the disaster comes the clean-up, and during this period, con artists may attempt to take advantage of severe weather victims. By heeding the following tips, you can avoid being a victim.
- Beware of door-to-door solicitors selling home-repair work. To find someone reputable, ask friends or family who have recently used a home-repair contractor or professional. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
- Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a written contract.
- Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.
- Obtain and check at least three references from your contractor or professional.
- Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
- Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.
- Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that your project will be completed. Never make the final payment until you have had an opportunity to inspect the work.
- Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.
- Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.
Home improvement scams:
- Beware of home improvement loan scams, in which the scammer offers to arrange financing or offers to fill out a disaster loan application for a fee.
- Beware of anyone who offers to inflate the amount of your disaster damage assessment.
- Be suspicious of anyone who solicits your personal information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers.
- Never sign any document without fully reading and understanding it. If you do not understand something, ask for an explanation.
- Shop for the best financing if you are financing the cost of the repairs.