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Chief Warns of Home Repair Scams
June 25, 2008 - Knightstown residents dealing with contractors in wake of the recent storms should beware, Knightstown Chief of Police Danny Baker said.
According to Baker, one Knightstown homeowner was taken advantage of by a contractor when money was paid up front and then the job was never completed. While the homeowner has not filed a report, there is an ongoing investigation, Baker said.
In order to avoid being taken advantage of, Baker suggests using contractors suggested by the insurance company, and never prepaying for a job.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is also warning people affected by recent storms, tornadoes and flooding to be aware of people trying to cheat them.
According to a recent FEMA press release, common scams include people posing as FEMA inspectors. These inspectors ask for a fee to complete the work, something a true FEMA inspector would not do.
Other scams FEMA is warning people about involve identity theft. In some instances, victims in disaster areas receive a letter, phone call or e-mail asking for bank account numbers and social security numbers to complete processing for disaster relief.
According to the agency, the only time FEMA asks for bank information is when an applicant registers for assistance and requests the money be directly deposited in his or her bank account. This only occurs when the victim contacts FEMA and not the other way around. People dealing with disaster representatives should always ask to see a photo ID, as both state and FEMA officials carry them.
Other FEMA tips to help avoid contractor problems include asking contractors for proof of both disability and worker's compensation insurance. Uninsured contractors can cause homeowners to become responsible for any accidents that occur on the property.
FEMA also states that legitimate contractors do not ask for more than one-third as a down payment. The organization also suggests asking for a written estimate that includes all the job details such as what tasks will be performed, payment schedules, who is responsible for applying for and obtaining necessary permits and what taxes and other fees are involved.
Homeowners interested in researching contractors in more detail can also subscribe to Angie's List magazine in Indianapolis. Angie's List members receive a monthly publication and access to the Angie's List website, where they can review reports written by other members who have used service providers in categories ranging from contractors to painters. Those wanting more information can contact Angie's List at 888-888-5478 or visit angieslist.com.
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