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Avoid post-hurricane scams in Florida

Even as this is being written, Florida is bracing for Hurricane Dorian. With hurricanes, it's always a "will-it-or-won't-it" type of situation. Residents often prep their homes and stock up on provisions to be safe, but they never really know if the hurricane will hit hard or mostly skip them by.

One thing they can count on, however, if a hurricane does hit is that the wave of scam artists posing as repairmen and general contractors won't be far behind.

Storm-chasing scam artists follow behind hurricanes and tornados, moving in on the vulnerable to try to separate them from their cash as quickly as possible.

One of the most typical scams works like this:

  1. The pretend-contractor spots a home with serious damage to a roof or other structure.
  2. They talk the anxious homeowner into signing a release form (or a series of them) so they can contact the insurance company directly. Usually, they do so by promising to waive the insurance deductible and get the work done right away.
  3. The homeowner, relieved to not have to deal with any more trauma and already in distress, agrees.
  4. The scam artist makes off with the first payment from the insurance company, leaving the work undone.

In other cases, scam artists may do the work -- but they use substandard materials that only appear to take care of the problems.

Don't let yourself be taken in by a scam artist. Waiting for a real contractor during this time may be frustrating, but you're wise to look for a local company that has a good reputation. Make sure that you get a written estimate, a signed contract and a copy of the contractor's license and certificate of insurance.

Construction disputes can turn ugly very quickly. If you're involved in one, learn more about your rights by checking out our website further or contacting us directly.

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