Source: OEP Director Mary Jones
FEMA and the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) caution disaster survivors to be aware of post-disaster fraud and scams. Attempts to scam residents can be made over the phone, by mail or email, through the internet or in person. It is important to remain alert. Con artists are creative and resourceful. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it should be questioned.
Demand for contractors to repair or replace damaged homes in Louisiana is high. Fake or unlicensed contractors may try to take advantage of the situation to scam disaster survivors. As insurance settlements, grants and loans put homeowners in a position to pay for work on their homes, survivors need to be sure the people they hire are authorized to do the work, will complete it and will do a good job.
Out-of-town scam artists may be the first to arrive at your front door after a disaster. Do your research. To find out if a potential contractor is licensed to work in Louisiana, contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors or call them at (225) 765-2301 or use Text-To-Verify at (855) 999-7896. See more at Online Contractor Search – LSLBC (louisiana.gov). FEMA does not license or certify contractors.
Be Aware of These Contractor Scams and Warning Signs
§ Door-To -Door Solicitations
§ High Pressure Sales or Scare Tactics
§ Demand for Cash, Unusually Large Down Payments or Advanced Full Payment
§ Special Deals or Extremely Low Bids
§ Verbal Agreements, No Written Contract
§ Out of State, No Permanent Place of Business, No Insurance
§ Inadequate References
Being aware of these important clues can save you from substantial financial and emotional loss. Report suspicious activity of this kind to your local police department, the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-223-0814, or the Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Dispute line at 800-351-4889. You can also report the suspected fraud to the Better Business Bureau at (337) 478-6253 or visit BBB of Southwest Louisiana: Start With Trust.