Maryland Homeowners: Can You Spot Fraud Attempts After a Weather Event?
Here in Maryland, we are well into the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season. In the event of a worst-case scenario weather situation for your home, you must be vigilant with not only getting the needed repairs, but looking out for people who want to take advantage of you. Unfortunately, fraud attempts skyrocket after massive weather events. Prepare yourself with the best information so that you don’t fall victim to even more tragedy after the storm.
Ask for Licensure and Insurance
Once you have narrowed down a contractor to complete the repairs needed after a weather event, it is critically important to investigate whether this company is licensed and insured. If they are uneasy about providing licensure and insurance information, you should proceed with caution. This is one of the first things that should stand out in fraud cases.
SBP USA found that over 60% of their grant recipients were victims of contractor fraud following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In order to prevent more people going through the same hardship, they have suggested homeowners to request the following information prior to hiring a contractor:
- Business Name
- Contractor’s Full Name
- License Number and expiration date
- Ask: “Do you have a photocopy of the contractor’s business license?”
- Ask: “Do you have a photocopy of the contractor’s identification?”
- Ask: “Does the contractor have workers’ compensation?”
- Ask: “Do you have a photocopy of the documentation?”
- Ask: “Does the contractor have proof of insurance including the carrier name, policy number, and phone number?”
- Ask: “Do you have a photocopy of the proof of insurance?”
You may also be solicited by scammers offering clean-up services who demand upfront payment. Don’t fall for this. A reputable company will never ask for the entire upfront payment in cash. At RoofPro, our customer service team can work with you to get your payments on a schedule or work through your insurance first to verify all of the repairs and upgrades that you are entitled to.
Be Wary of Scams
Natural disasters provide ample opportunity for scammers to find new victims. There are a host of ways that these perpetrators look for ways to take advantage. The more you know about the typical scams, the more prepared you will be. According to the Federal Communications Commission, fake flood insurance robocalls are common after severe weather: “Following hurricanes, fraudsters have used caller ID spoofing and robocall technology to target residents of areas hit by the storms with scam calls about flood insurance.”
One way to combat this is to not answer calls from numbers you don’t know. If you did answer, don’t give out any personal information and do not answer any questions. If you suspect fraud after a weather event, you can report it to the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.
Some scammers may also pose as charities to get donations. This is something that we see often. To protect yourself from fraud like this, only donate to charities that you are familiar with. You can also take some information, but confirm and verify its validity prior to giving any money.
There is also an increase of scammers posing as government officials after weather events. When in doubt, always ask for ID. The Federal Trade Commission says that if anyone asks you for your financial information, it is undoubtedly a scam. They may also pose as FEMA representatives to get this information, but FEMA never charges you fees. Be vigilant about anyone asking you for money to provide you aid.
We always suggest reading online reviews for any company that you hire to help with repairs and clean up after a weather event. Word of mouth is also helpful in determining if a company is reputable. We also suggest shopping around. Even if you’re not the victim of a natural disaster, getting more than one estimate is always best practice. Shopping around, but staying local gives you a better chance of getting the best service. Avoid hiring out of town companies.
The RoofPro Difference
The team at RoofPro wants to make sure that you are comfortable enough to call all of the shots after a weather event. If you are unsure of what companies to trust, we always recommend working with your insurance agent to identify trusted contractors that won’t take your money and run. We are also happy to help you identify the appropriate questions to ask regarding licenses, estimates, and even final contract details. We never move forward with anything unless you are fully comfortable and knowledgeable regarding what will take place.
Staying local to the Baltimore area is another way to ensure that your best interests are being looked after. We would be honored to help you. Give us a call today at 410-428-6806 for honest, free, and thorough disaster estimates.
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