Money Matters: Tornado Scams

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A lot of people in Kansas suffered home and outbuilding damage due to last Saturday's tornado outbreak.

Many home and farm owners will need help from contractors to repair or replace buildings and roofs and remove trees. But there are some consumer tips you need to know before hiring a contractor, because unfortunately scam artists will come to town and prey on people.

Here are some of those tips to help you.

1. Check out track record

Check out the company's record with the Better Business Bureau online at www.bbb.org or call the bureau toll free 1-800-856-2417.

2. Compare prices

Get at least three bids in writing and compare bids based on warranty, specifications, labor and time.

3. Licensing

Check with the city to see if the company is licensed.

4. Insurance

Make sure the company has liability insurance to protect you against damage.

5. References

Ask for references from the company's last three jobs and check them out before the work begins or a contract is signed. Don't hire someone who is just driving through the neighborhood, putting flyers in doors or claiming to work with neighbors.

6. Written contract

Don't permit any work to begin without a signed written contact. It should include start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done and warranty information. Read the fine print carefully.

7. Deposits

Don't pay more than 25% to 33% of the total cost of the job as a deposit. And the final payment should not be made until the job is done. Pay by check or credit card, not cash.

8. Warranty

Get warranty information on products and installation in writing. Read the fine print carefully.

9. Bonding

Make sure all the workers are bonded, to protect you from theft and damage.

10. Criminal history

Check out anyone you allow into your home to see if they have a criminal history. These days background checks can be done online and it doesn't cost big bucks.

If you have insurance, sometimes your adjuster can make recommendations. But a poor repair job is money wasted. So take a little time to check out the contractor. You could save yourself more misery.


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