Many residents have been impacted by the recent flood and power outages. These disasters can leave your home and business in ruins. You want to get back on your feet quickly. But a disaster also lures crooked building contractors. They'll exploit the confusion and emergency conditions to try and scam you and your insurance policy. Most contractors are honest. But know the warning signs of a swindle — and how to fight back. Just as important, don't try to inflate or fake insurance claims yourself.
Follow these home repair safety tips:
• When dealing with contractors obtain two or three written repair bids, if possible. They should include all costs, what work will be done, schedule for completing the work, and guarantees.
• But... don't accept a bid just because it's the lowest. Lowball bids such as "special flood deals" and "limited time offers" could be fraudulent.
• Don't pay for repair bids. Crooked contractors may simply take your money and disappear. Most reputable contractors won't charge you simply for bidding on your repair work.
• Use established local contractors if possible. But... be careful if the contractor arrives in an unmarked vehicle, seeks your repair work door-to-door, or tries to cut costs by using materials "from another job." These contractors may be unlicensed, dishonest and untrained transients from another state. They may disappear with your money after finishing only part of the job, or not doing any work.
• Licenses. Ask to see a contractor's required state or local licenses. Also ask contractors for proof that they have liability and workers compensation insurance.
• Make sure it's a legitimate, printed document — not something scratched out on a piece of paper. Make sure you have a copy for your files. No advance payment. Don't pay a contractor in full before work begins, or before it's finished. Normally you should only pay about 20 percent or less upfront.
Contact the Dearborn Police if you believe any contactor is suspicious at 313.943.3030.