Inside LADA

January 26, 2018: Fraudulent Contractors Can See Opportunity in Natural Disaster Victims’ Tragedy

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Property owners rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed by natural disasters should be cautious of contractors seeking to take advantage of their misfortune.

Fraudulent Contractor Scams typically fall into two categories: Contractors working without a license and contractors – licensed or not – whose work is substandard or never completed.

Criminal penalties for either during a declared state of emergency are significantly higher. Unlicensed contractors who seek to repair property damaged by a natural disaster face fines of up to $10,000, three years in jail or both. Contractors convicted of defrauding a property owner or tenant for repairs to a structure damaged by a natural disaster can be fined up to $25,000.

TIPS:

  • Hire licensed and insured contractors. Check a contractor’s license status with the Contractors State License Board at cslb.ca.gov. Disaster victims may call the board’s hotline at (800) 962-1125.
  • Ask friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers for contractor recommendations.
  • Ask contractors to provide references.
  • Don’t hire contractors who ask for the entire payment up front.
  • Have a knowledgeable friend, relative or attorney review the repair contract before signing it.

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