The Shreveport Police Want to Help You Spot Phony Contractors
Every time we get hit with bad weather in the Shreveport - Bossier City area, crooks start combing our communities. These criminals are looking for anyone with storm damage so that they may employ a very specific type of con: The Contractor Scam.
This type of swindle is so prolific because it's so successful. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice reports that Americans lose billions of dollars every year to this type of fraud. One of the biggest reasons that people fall for this scam is that its perpetrators spring it on folks at the perfect time - right after a devastating storm.
The flim-flam artists that steal thousands of dollars from each victim roll out right after storm damage has been reported in an area and pose as legitimate contractors. The evil brilliance of this plan is that the crooks blend in with legitimate contractors who are actually helping people repair their homes.
Since these thieves will go to great lengths to convince their marks that they are legitimate, the Shreveport Police Department has issued a warning and some tips on how to spot these charlatans. According to SPD Chief Wayne Smith's latest press release, these are the steps residents should take to avoid being scammed:
- Question requests for payment in full prior to the project beginning. If a contractor asks for this, think twice before doing business with them. It is not unusual for a contractor to request some money upfront. Research the company and demand to see their contractor’s license and verify that by looking them up through the Secretary of State’s webpage. Also, contact the insurance company and verify that they are indeed insured. A reputable contractor will never take issue with that.
- Insist on a contract and go over every detail in the contract with the business. It would be a good idea to have a witness present and ask that the witness be able to sign the contract.
- Don’t attempt to save money by hiring a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend who can “fix” things. This is especially important if you are having big projects completed. If you do use unlicensed “handymen” understand that you are doing that at your own risk and may never recover your money or get your job completed.
- Most legitimate contractors offer no charge for an estimate, but as always, be cautious. During the inspection, be extra attentive to the contractor’s assessment. Some contractors will target senior citizens and perform inspections in places of their homes where the homeowner can’t access like attics and underneath the house. This is an easy way for a contractor to “make up” damage that simply is not there.
- Check the Better Business Bureau website and always try to get three quotes.
If you have been the victim of this kind of scam, or want to report suspicious individuals in your neighborhood call 318-673-7300 and choose option #3.