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Beward of Contractor Fraud Following Hurricane Sandy

To avoid getting scammed, homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy should be on the lookout for potentially fraudulent contractors.

We know the last few weeks have been very difficult for our area and our thoughts and prayers go out to so many who have lost so much. Our sympathies also go out to the many who are now facing major repair & rebuilding projects. With the fury Mother Nature has unleashed over the past two weeks, we know many folks in the area will be working with contractors, in many cases for the first time. As we move toward recovery, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips recently posted by Allstate New Jersey: 

Insurance fraud costs Americans billions of dollars annually. While most home-repair contractors are honest and do quality work, some are not so trustworthy. Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company wants to remind homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy that to avoid getting scammed they should be on the lookout for potentially fraudulent contractors

Here are 10 rules of thumb to use when working with contractors. 

  1. Be wary of contractors who solicit door-to-door. Work only with established contractors and those who have a solid reputation. 
  2. Work only with licensed, bonded and insured contractors and have them provide you with documentation.
  3. Require references and check them out. 
  4. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against contractors you are considering. 
  5. Don’t feel pressured into signing a contract, and never sign a contract with blanks. A contract should include the contractor’s name, business name, phone number and address. 
  6. Avoid payment-in-full up front. Some contractors may require a partial upfront payment, but the amount should not exceed approximately 20% of the total estimate amount. 
  7. Never let work begin on your home or business until the contract is finalized. 
  8. Don’t pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the job is completed and you are satisfied with the work — avoid making cash payments.
  9. If anyone performs unauthorized work on your property and demands payment, consider contacting authorities.
  10. Never let anyone persuade you to seek reimbursement for nonexistent or exaggerated losses or damages. This is insurance fraud, which is a felony.

For those of you with insurance claims due to the storm, we feel your pain as several of our folks have been similarly impacted.  We've all seen the pictures.  The size and scope of property damage is unprecedented and it will take all of the insurance carriers a while to work through a huge backlog.  I know it's easy to counsel patience, but it will take time for them to get to everybody.  

We hope you find this information helpful as we all begin the process of rebuilding. Please share it with your neighbors, friends and colleagues.  As always, my agency is available as a resource so please let us know if we can be of assistance. Call us at 732-446-4919, online at www.sharerandassociates.com, or email at donnsharer@allstate.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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