Angora Wildfire - Consumer Information

How to Avoid Being Scammed During a Disaster

June 29, 2007 09:37 AM PDT

As the rebuilding process begins after the Angora wildfires in Lake Tahoe, be extremely cautious when hiring contractors.

Unscrupulous contractors may take advantage of people who have experienced a catastrophic event. Take your time in choosing true professionals to repair your home.

Immediately report any suspicious behavior to your local police, sheriff's department. Be cautious of flyers and business cards left on your doorstep.

Nine Checks to Not Get Scammed...

  • Get estimates from several licensed, bonded contractors.
  • Check their credentials with your local Better Business Bureau or Home Builders Association.
  • Ask your neighbors what they're paying for similar work.
  • Inspect contractors' licenses and proof of liability insurance.
  • Get a contract in writing.
  • Avoid paying money up-front. Some reputable contractors will require partial, up-front payment, but these pre-work payments shouldn't exceed the cost of materials or 20 percent of the total estimate.
  • Follow local building codes and inspection procedures.
  • If anyone performs work on your house or property without your permission, don't pay them, and contact your local authorities.
  • Avoid signing over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.

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