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How to keep yourself safe from potential scams

Posted: April 28, 2014 - 8:23pm

During a time when so much devastation and heartbreak is affecting so many in the communities of Vilonia and Mayflower and help is so badly needed by the tornado victims, scams can potentially happen to them and to businesses.

There will be individuals out in the field assessing the damage in the Mayflower, Violonia and Little Rock areas, according to Gregory L. Crow, administrator of the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board.

Christina Galloway, executive officer of the Faulkner County Home Builders Association, stated that there are several businesses that are members, including Lumber 1 in Mayflower.

“Businesses will be greatly effected in those two areas,” Galloway said of those members located in Vilonia and Mayflower.

She had volunteered during the 2011 tornado relief in Vilonia and said she knew that scams had happened at that time by individuals who were not from this area.

The FCHBA has provided a Checklist for Finding and Hiring a Builder or Remodeler.

Crow said to always make sure the contractor or individual is properly licensed and if they are not it is a huge red flag. Anyone who wants payment up front without a proper written and detailed contract is also something that is not a good business practice. You should always owe a contractor money at the end of the job.

Crow also said to never sign over an insurance check to an individual for work on your home, and do not sign anything for someone to assess damage, such as your roof.

Here is a checklist of other things you should be aware of before allowing any work to be done:

• Contact your local home builders’ association for the names of member builders and remodelers. The FCHBA can send you a list of area Builders who are licensed and insured in the area, just call 501-269-9558 or email fchba10@gmail.com.

• Check out the company’s rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org.

• Make sure the builder/remodeler has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.

• Ask the builder/remodeler to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won’t, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.

• Be cautious of unusually low-priced bids. If the builder/remodeler is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this may indicate a potential problem. Keep in mind that less expensive does not mean better!

Beware of Fly By Night Contractors

Across the country each year, many people become victims of tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or wildfires. These natural disasters cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually. One of the untold costs associated with disasters are those losses due to fraud. Often “fly-by-night” contractors appear in communities right after a disaster and further victimize the victims by swindling them out of their precious and often limited resources by offering cheap and quick repair work. Here’s a warning from home builders that may save you from another disaster: unscrupulous contractors.

Some signs that a contractor could be trying to take advantage of you:

• You’re told that on this job, a contract “won’t be necessary.”

• You’re told you’ve been “chosen” as a demonstration project at a special, low price.

• You’re told a “special” low price is good only if you sign a contract today.

• The contractor won’t give you references — or the references can’t be located.

• You can’t verify the contractor’s business address.

Galloway also added, that anyone performing work on a residence where the cost is over $2,000 must have a license. This does not apply if someone is doing work on his or her own property but if your hiring someone to work on your home and the cost is over $2,000 then they must have a license. The following link has the bill that was passed concerning this as well as other information, http://aclb.arkansas.gov/.

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