TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The storm may be over, but there are still threats that storm victims need to look out for.
There are already reports of people canvassing neighborhoods, offering to help with bad intentions.
With all the flooding and downed trees, unlicensed and unqualified workers have found ways to take advantage of residents, offering to help them for a fee.
Doug Templeton of Pinellas County Consumer Protection says government investigators are in impacted areas to bust those up to no good.
“You don’t want to react too quickly,” Templeton warned property owners. “If there’s individuals coming door to door and soliciting that way, you really want to take your time like any other transaction, get multiple estimates, certainly get a contract in writing.”
Here are the top three schemes to look out for:
Shady tree trimmers: Look out for high-pressure sales tactics, too good to be true prices and a lack of insurance.
Unlicensed contractors: While there a lot of good contractors trying to help clean up after a storm, steer clear of unlicensed contractors and out of state contractors.
Fake charities: If you want to help storm victims, give only to charities you know and trust. With each storm, crooks trick well-meaning people into giving money that doesn’t end up going to victims.
Most contractors must have a state license. You can look up your contractor to check the license status. Keep in mind, many Tampa Bay area counties also license and regulate local contractors. You can check with your building department.
In addition, some trades, such as tree trimmers, aren’t required to have a license but they should have insurance. You can ask for proof of insurance and then call the insurance company to verify.
Make sure you get the scope of work, including the price, in writing and don’t pay in full up front.