JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi State Board of Contractors is warning storm victims to be aware of repair scams as many plan to get their homes and businesses rebuilt.
“If you’ve already been a victim of the storm, we don’t want you to be victimized a second time by a fraudulent contractor,” said MSBOC Executive Director Stephanie Lee. Lee encourages consumers to check references, obtain written estimates and avoid large cash payments upfront.
To help the process go smoothly, MSBOC officials are offering the following suggestions:
- Use local licensed contractors. If you were satisfied with past work done by local licensed contractors, try them first. If they cannot help you, ask for recommendations. If you must hire a contractor you don’t know, obtain several estimates to compare before signing anything.
- Ask for references. Contractors should be willing to provide names of previous customers. Contact some of those customers and ask if they would hire the contractor again.
- Ask for a written estimate. Make sure it includes everything you expect the contractor to do. Also, find out up-front if the contractor will charge a fee for that estimate.
- Ask for proof of insurance. Be sure the contractor has general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. If not, you may be liable for accidents on your property.
- Get a written contract. The contract should clearly state all work, costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces.
- Ask for guarantees in writing (if separate from the contract). If the contractor provides guarantees, he/she should clearly state what is covered by that guarantee, who is responsible for fulfilling the guarantee (dealer, contractor or manufacturer), and how long the guarantee is valid.
- Get a copy of the final, signed contract. Read it over carefully before signing. Once signed, the contract is binding on both you and the contractor.
- Do not sign off before the job is finished. Make sure the work is done to your satisfaction before signing completion papers or making a final payment. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign if the job is not finished properly.