Beware of Post-Storm Scams: How to Safely Hire a Contractor
When a storm roars through, leaving a trail of damage in its wake, the last thing you want is another tempest—in the form of a scam contractor—knocking on your door. As hailstones and strong winds give way to clear skies, they often usher in a less welcome forecast: a downpour of shady contractors looking to make a quick buck off homeowners scrambling to patch up their battered abodes. Tony Thompson, a veteran at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries Construction Codes and Licensing Enforcement Services Unit, is here to serve as your personal weather vane, pointing you in the direction of safe and sound hiring practices in the midst of this post-storm contractor flurry. Whether it’s your roof or siding that’s taken a hit, heed this crucial advice: before you sign on any dotted lines, equip yourself with the knowledge to ensure you’re welcoming a helper, not a hustler, into your home.
- Beware of Scam Businesses: After major weather events, scam businesses may prey on homeowners in need of repairs.
- Licensed Contractors are Key: Tony Thompson from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries Construction Codes and Licensing Enforcement Services Unit stresses the importance of hiring a licensed contractor.
- Verification Methods: Confirm a contractor’s license by visiting the labor department website, calling 651-284-5069, or checking with the Better Business Bureau.
- Seek Recommendations: Asking friends and neighbors for referrals is a wise move.
- Due Diligence is Essential: If a contractor approaches you, it’s not a sure sign of a scam, but do your homework before proceeding.
- Be Careful with Paperwork: Don’t feel pressured to sign any documents immediately. Anything you sign may be a legally binding contract.
- Shop Around: Getting several quotes can help homeowners find a better price and understand what’s reasonable.
- Check Legal History: Tony Thompson recommends searching for the contractor or business on the state court’s website for any past criminal or civil convictions related to the business.
- Handle Insurance Claims Directly When Possible: Contractors can speak directly with your insurance company, but it may be best to handle claims personally.
- Know Your Rights: If a contractor solicits you at your home, state law typically gives you until midnight on the third business day following the agreement to cancel the contract. You can also cancel a contract if your insurance company denies a claim in some instances.
Ah, the aftermath of a storm – when trees aren’t the only things getting uprooted! Here come the “contractor locusts,” swarming in after the storm to “help” (read: possibly scam) distressed homeowners. Tony Thompson is basically our weather-beaten superhero, guiding us on how to dodge these potential scams with the grace of a cat avoiding a puddle. First lesson: license, license, license! It’s your contractor’s golden ticket and your golden shield. And let’s talk about the ‘sign-here-now’ tactic. If a contractor’s pen is moving faster than a wind turbine in a hurricane, that’s your cue to pump the brakes! Shop around – don’t let a smooth talker with a clipboard rush you into a decision faster than lightning strikes. Remember, you’ve got more time than a tortoise in a foot race when it comes to cancelling that contract, so breathe easy and think twice.
- Post-Storm Scams
- Licensed Contractors
- Contractor Verification
- Due Diligence
- Insurance Claims
- Contract Cancellation
- Home Repair
- Storm Damage
- Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries