Protect Yourself from Scams: Home Repair Advice after Flooding (Article)
Authored By: Acadiana Legal Service Corporation
Home Repair Advice after Flooding
After the flooding of a large area of the State, dishonest home repair contractors may try to take advantage of homeowners trying to repair their homes. To protect yourself against being ripped-off, here are a few tips:
- While you would like to have your home repaired quickly, take the time to check out the person offering to work for you. Be sure the labeling on their work truck matches who they tell you they are or who they say they work for.
- Ask to see the ID and write down the name and address of anyone who you let into your home. Call the cellphone number they give you to be sure it is actually theirs.
- Only deal with licensed and insured contractors. You can search this database find out if a contractor is licensed in Louisiana.
- Ask the contractor to see proof of insurance, then call the company to verify their coverage before hiring them.
- Check the record of any contractor you are thinking of hiring by calling their recent customers, your area Better Business Bureau and Home Builders Association, insurance agents, and claims adjusters. These are the BBBs for our affected areas:
- Acadiana area: www.bbb.org/acadiana;
- Baton Rouge area: www.bbb.org/baton-rouge;
- Central Louisiana: www.bbb.org/shreveport;
- Southeast Louisiana: www.bbb.org/new-orleans;
- Ask your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for recommendations.
- Don’t rush into signing a contract. The lowest bidder may not be the most reputable. Be sure the repair quote covers everything you want it to. Ask a knowledgeable friend or attorney to look over your contract before you sign. Get a signed copy of the contract before any work starts.
- Before letting anyone into your home, be sure that there is no cost for the estimate. Or, if there is, ask whether the cost will be applied toward the full project cost.
- Don’t deal with contractors who ask you to pay the entire cost of the job up-front. A deposit of 1/3 of the total contract amount is standard. Don’t pay the final amount until all work has been completed, and you are satisfied. Pay by credit card or check, never cash.
- If you take out a loan to pay for repairs and decide to use your home as collateral, you could lose your home if you can’t make the repayments.
- Instead of spending a lot of money on temporary repairs, think about when you might have enough money for permanent repairs.
- If you think you have been ripped-off, you can contact the Consumer Division of the State Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-351-4889 or file a complaint at: https://www.ag.state.la.us/Home/ComplaintDocument; and
- If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse involving Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance programs, you can report it to FEMA’s Inspector General’s Office at 1-800-323-8603 or file a complaint at: https://www.oig.dhs.gov/hotline/hotline.php.