Hurricane Sandy caused billions of dollars worth of damage. If you’re one of the unfortunate homeowners to be affected, you need to be careful when looking for someone to rebuild or repair your home. There are a lot of corrupt contractors looking to make a quick buck by scamming those affected by the hurricane. This can make a bad situation even worse. Let’s take a closer look at what to look out for when hiring a contractor and how to find the best contractor for the job.
What to Look Out For
First of all, you want to make sure a contractor is licensed and has experience. This doesn’t guarantee that the contractor won’t rip you off, but it will give scammers pause when you ask to see credentials. You also want to watch out for contractors that ask for a complete upfront payment. A legitimate contractor will not do this. You may be asked to pay 10-25% of the total up front, but never 100-percent. Scammers are also very likely to point out damage that needs immediate attention. Don’t let this fool you. The contractor is only trying to get your money. Always get more than several opinions when getting work done. You should also be wary of contractors offering prices well below other estimates you’ve received. Remember, if it sounds too good be to be true, it probably is. Last, but not least, understand how long projects will take and how much they will cost. If a contractor says he can replace the roof in less than one day for $500, run! (And we don’t mean straight into the contractors arms)
What to Look for in a Contractor
Chances are the contractors in your area are in high-demand, especially if the damage in your area was severe. This means you may have to wait up to a week or longer to get estimates, but you should get several before moving forward. A good contractor will be able to look at your home and give you a list of work that needs to be done along with a price rundown and a final estimate. A good contractor should also be able to provide a good list of references. However, you need to do more research to find out if you’re making the best decision. Ask for referrals from friends and family who have had work done in the past and search websites that review local contractors.
The damage from a hurricane can be devastating. Unfortunately, scammers can make the experience much worse. If you’ve experienced damage to your home, make sure you make an informed decision before hiring a contractor.
My grandmother called me about a week ago and asked me if I had received the birthday card that she had sent. I told her I hadn’t and she became immediately concerned that someone had stolen the card from my mailbox to get the Best Buy gift card that she had sent with it. She then called back and asked, “Your address is still 88 Spring St, correct?” I told her that she had the right address (after I made her verify that she was in fact my grandmother – she laughed and so I knew it had to be her).
Fortunately, the card was sent back to her because she had neglected to place a stamp on the envelope, but for a moment I was concerned that I had been the victim of mail theft, not only because someone else was potentially spending the gift card my grandmother had sent me, but because if someone was able to steal my card sent in the mail, then there was a strong possibility that the same thief could steal a letter containing private information pertaining to my credit card, bank account or even mail that contained my social security number.
Although the experience was a false alarm, it made me think about how important it is to protect my mail from possible theft, and in doing so, prevent identity theft from becoming a reality.
According to FiscalGeek.com, in 2005 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a survey that showed over 8.3 million adults were victims of identity theft. Last year, the FTC reported that 9.9 million Americans were victims of identity theft and that many cases were directly related in some way to stolen mail. In response to the increasing threat, the U.S. postal service has teamed up with USPS officials to create rock solid strategies that will hopefully deter thieves from stealing mail in the future. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of mail theft: Continue reading You’ve Got Mail And Someone Is About to Steal it: What You Can Do To Prevent Mail Theft
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