News 5 Investigates: How to avoid unlicensed contractors and scams after a disaster

Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-08 21:27:33-04

Whenever a catastrophic hail storm rolls into town, we often see a flood of unlicensed contractors and out-of-state companies set up shop in the Pikes Peak Region.

Unfortunately, unlicensed contractors will use disasters to their advantage so it’s important to background check the company you hire before giving them money.

If you experience damage to your house: 

-Take pictures and file your claim as soon as possible.

-Make sure the contractor or company is licensed, registered and insured. Check with your local building office to make sure that proper permits and licenses are obtained prior to any work being performed If you live in Colorado Springs, click here for a direct link to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department web site.

-If you are paying for repairs out of pocket, get at least three estimates. Be cautious if one estimate appears “too good to be true”.

-Always get a contract in writing and request the contractor write down a start date and estimated completion date.

Key red flags: 

-Watch out for “pushy” door-to-door sales tactics and unsolicited phone calls.

-Beware of contractors asking for a full payment up front.

-Never allow the contractor to request that you pull/secure building permits. That’s their job!

If you experience damage to your car: 

-File a claim as soon as possible to avoid delays. With major disasters, it can take some time for an insurance adjuster to come out and assess your case.

-The insurance companies may require you to take your car to one of their designated repair centers. However, some insurance companies have been known to issue a check directly to the customer so he/she can go to a repair shop of their choice. It’s a lot more convenient this way, but the responsibility to check out the company is now your responsibility.

-Use caution when visiting “pop up” hail tents. Ask if the business has an office in town.

-Be skeptical if the “pop up” business doesn’t have a web site or supplies you with an out-of-state number. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad business, but you could run into problems down the road if you have questions that need to be addressed and the company has left town.

Notice a hail repair business engaged in fraudulent activity?

It’s important to report any suspicious operations to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.