BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is warning citizens about scams that can pop-up after the large storm Baton Rouge saw on Monday.
"In the aftermath of this storm, many residents are still facing outages while trying to deal with downed trees, debris removal and damage to homes and businesses," says Caldwell. "Unfortunately, scammers use this opportunity to take advantage of those citizens who are down on their luck."
According to the Director of Public Protection at the AG's office, reputable contractors don't have time to go door-to-door following a storm.
"More than likely, these are storm chasers that come in from out-of-state and aren't properly licensed," said Sam Pleasant.
The Attorney General offers these tips to stay above water on potential scams:
Get at least three bids: Make sure each contractor you contact bids on the exact same work. All bids should be itemized and detailed.
Know the contractor: Make sure the contractor is insured, and call the insurer to make sure that they are insured for the amount of work that you anticipate needs to be done. Make sure the contractor is licensed through The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors. The list of registered contractors can be found HERE.
Do not agree to a large down payment: When a down payment is required, it should not exceed 10 to 25% of the total price. If possible, go to the supply store and buy the project's materials yourself and have the items delivered directly to the jobsite.
Be specific: When drawing up a contract, specify the beginning and completion date, a description of the work needed, the total cost of the job, the schedule of payment, and a guarantee of the work done. Be sure to specify the quality of materials to be used in the job, because it is up to the contractor otherwise.
Get a guarantee and a contract in writing: Caldwell says that "Any contractor not willing to guarantee his or her work is not someone with whom you should be doing business." Do not accept verbal agreements and keep a signed copy of the contract in a safe place.
Do not pay cash: Always pay by check or money order, and keep a receipt. Write checks to the worker's company, and not to the worker himself.
Do not sign a certificate of completion or make final payment until you are satisfied with all work performed: Save all receipts from the job and contracts to make sure that you receive the services you paid for.
If you suspect that a contractor might not be legitimate, contact law enforcement, and the Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors at (800) 256-1392. You can also file a complaint with the Attorney General's office by calling (800) 351-4889.