Sandy Scams: Beware Repair Fraudsters

Consumer advocates are warning homeowners to be extra careful if they need to hire contractors to repair storm-related damage in the wake of Sandy.
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Natural disasters tend to bring out what the Better Business Bureau calls "storm chasers," people who take advantage of homeowners who need help with cleanup, wind and flood damage, roof repairs and more.

First,  check with your insurance company to see what your policy covers. Save all receipts, including those for food, hotel or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.

Then, consider these tips before hiring a contractor in the days and weeks ahead:

  • Before doing any major repair, get at least three estimates. Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured to do business in your area.
  • Check out repair companies by looking for consumer reviews on the BBB website and on social media sites such as Yelp or Angie's List.
  • Get a written contract specifying what work will be done, the materials that will be used and the price breakdown for labor and materials. Any promises made verbally should be written into the contract, including warranties.
  • Never pay in advance - or in cash. While some companies may ask for a deposit, consumer advocates suggest paying for no more than one-third of the job up front.

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