DETROIT – As Metro Detroiters start to repair the damage from this week's severe floods, there are a few key ways to stay protected from scammers and fake contractors.
First, look out for fake flood insurance. Scammers are looking to make a quick buck off the flooding and will offer insurance by calling or going door-to-door.
Residents should get that kind of insurance through a homeowner's or renter's policy.
Before searching for contractors and cleanup companies, research to see if they're legitimate businesses.
In Michigan, contractors offering to do work that totals more than $600 much be licensed by the state. Residents should shop around and get estimates in writing.
After picking a company, residents should ask for former customers to reach out to and ask about the company's work.
Deposits should only cover materials and startup costs. Oftentimes deposits are no more than 10 percent.
Anyone who is defrauded by a contractor should reach out to their insurance company. If a claim is filed first, insurance companies could be able to help.
How fraudulent contractors operate
They often offer to do repairs and request payment up front without doing the job. Then, they’ll ditch customers without doing much at all, if anything.
If they do complete the job, it will often be subpar work, and then consumers will need to get someone else to redo the job. Frauds might also use, or try to sell, stolen materials and equipment to property owners.
- Arrive at your home unannounced.
- Provide estimates that are extremely high or low in comparison to others.
- Offer a low price because they have materials left over from a previous job.
- Give an estimate in one lump sum without addressing the cost of items and tasks.
- Ask for 10% or more of the estimate price upfront as a deposit.
- Insist on submitting insurance claims on your behalf. This you should do on your own.
- Ask you to endorse insurance checks to them.
- Don’t have a fixed address for their business or don’t usually operate in your area.
- Cannot provide references.
- Have records of complaints filed against them by the local Better Business Bureau.