Dozens of complaints about contractors filed after Hurricane Irma

The arrest of a Polk suspect raises the issue of how to be safe hiring a contractor.

About four months after Hurricane Irma struck Florida, we are getting a look at how many contractor scams followed the storm. 

10Investigates contacted the state and got those numbers, and when you think about how many people were affected by the storm, it's not too bad.

There have been 69 complaints across the state. Three are from the Tampa area.

Two of those complaints have been closed with no violation found, and one is still open.

Only one contractor on the list has been cited, but a majority of the complaints are still under investigation.

But this is something 10Investigates, unfortunately, warned us about: People trying to take advantage of someone after disaster strikes.

If you feel like you have been a victim, you can still file a complaint with the state.

Please report any scams to the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling (866) 9NO-SCAM. If you cannot get a live operator file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.

TIPS FOR HIRING A CONTRACTOR

  • Watch out for unsolicited offers or contractors claiming they can perform repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job;
  • Have your insurance company evaluate damage before arranging repairs to ensure that the work will be covered under your policy;
  • Get at least three written, itemized estimates or bids on repairs;
  • Verify a contractor has a license with local and state licensing boards;
  • Additionally, ensure the contractor is licensed for the job. Check to see if a company is properly licensed and if there are any consumer complaints filed against a licensed contractor at MyFloridaLicense.com, the Department of Professional Business Regulation’s website;
  • Research the company and its reputation–ask for references;  
  • Contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office at 1 (866) 9NO-SCAM to see if there are complaints against a company or contractor;
  • Check for proof of insurance and verify with the insurer that their policy is current;
  • Check to see if the contractor is bonded and verify with the bonding agency;
  • Never pay the full amount of a repair up front and hesitate before providing large deposits;
  • Read the entire contract, including the fine print, before signing to ensure it includes the required buyer’s right to cancel language. Understand cancellation rights and penalties you may experience for canceling;
  • Homeowners may unknowingly have liens placed against their properties by suppliers or subcontractors who have not been paid by the contractor. If the contractor fails to pay them, the liens will remain on the title. Insist on releases of any liens that could be placed on the property from all subcontractors prior to making final payments; and
  • Do not sign a certificate of completion or make final payment until you are satisfied with the work performed.

© 2018 WTSP-TV


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