Though most building contractors are honest, disasters seem to attract scam artists.
Inspectors with the Federal Emergency Management Agency may visit neighborhoods following a disaster, and all FEMA inspectors will have proper photo identification. Be aware that FEMA and Small Business Administration inspectors never charge applicants for disaster assistance or for inspections.
- Ask to see state or local permits or licenses of anyone approaching you about services related to the disaster.
- Try to use established local contractors recommended by people you know and trust.
- Get receipts for all repair payments, including cash.
- Be especially alert for door-to-door solicitors who ask for large cash deposits or for entire payments in advance.
- Do not make a check payable to a person other than the owner or the company name.
- Be wary of contractors who promise to speed up the insurance or building permit process.
- Get written estimates before you sign a contract or make down payments.
If you have been victimized or you are concerned about people representing themselves as contractors, contact the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation or the Better Business Bureau.