Scam Artists Try to Dupe ‘Frankenstorm’ Victims

Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and its tropical storm, dubbed “Frankenstorm,” caused significant damage this week to homes across the East Coast, and scam artists have already moved in, trying to profit off home owners affected.

These scam artists may play the part of general contractors or insurance adjusters in trying to dupe victims to pay high upfront fees for their services.

For example, Realty Times warns about bogus contractors who try to attract home owners who want to get work on their house done as quickly as possible. Realty Times suggests home owners should get at least three estimates in writing about the work they want done to their home and to only get estimates from contractors who are licensed by the state or local regulatory agency. They also suggest requesting copies of the contractor’s general liability and workers’ compensation insurance policies.

“Let the contractor know you will vet him or her until you are satisfied,” the article notes. “A good contractor will work with you in this vetting process. Avoid contractors who balk when you ask them the hard questions.”

Realty Times also recommends never paying for more than one-third of the cost of a job upfront, and to be sure to have a sign, detailed contract in place before any work is done or payments made.

Realty Times also warns about scams involving phony insurance adjustments, such as those requiring upfront fees, adjusters who refer you to contractors which is a conflict of interest, or those trying to get your Social Security or other personal data.

“Your insurance company has its own adjusters who will evaluate your property damage and hold your hand through the claims process, at no charge,” Realty Times notes. “A bona fide licensed contractor’s estimate can help you through this process.”

Source: “East Coast Scams Scarier Than ‘Frankenstorm’ Expected,” Realty Times (Nov. 1, 2012)