8 ways Long Island homeowners can stop Jose contractor scams

Storm chasers may do shoddy repairs, steal downpayments

ALBANY (09/20/2017) (readMedia)-- Long Islanders should stay alert for storm-chasing contractors who dangle fast and fraudulent home repairs that could cost them thousands of dollars out of pocket after tropical storm Jose batters low-lying areas, warns the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud.

Jose could cause considerable flooding and home damage on Long Island and nearby low-lying areas. Con artist contractors could try to gouge homeowners with bogus repairs during the crisis aftermath. Homeowners should avoid being chased by storm chasers, NYAAIF warns.

Most home contractors are honest. A small but disturbing number typically try to gouge anxious homeowners after storms such as Jose, especially if there's shortage of legitimate home contractors.

Dishonest and often unlicensed contractors troll damaged neighborhoods. They often go door to door, or leave flyers. These contractors may promise low prices and speedy repairs, NYAAIF says.

The contractor also may demand a large downpayment, then disappear without finishing the work. Or the work may be shoddy.

Fixing botched repairs can cost homeowners thousands of extra dollars out of pocket, and seriously delay repairs. Storm chasers also may inflate insurance claims, jeopardizing covered repair payouts.

New Yorkers can protect themselves:

Avoid door-to-door pitches. Avoid contractors who go door to door. Many are dishonest and unlicensed, trying to export desperate homeowners for profit.

Get written bids. Obtain several written repair bids. Avoid signing the first contract offer, especially if it seems unusually low.

Have a signed contract. Start work only with a signed repair contract. It should detail cost, promised work, material and schedule.

Avoid pressure tactics. Avoid signing up if the contractor pressures you for a fast decision for a "special discount" or "one-time offer."

Work with insurer. Coordinate covered repairs with your insurer. Have an adjuster inspect the damage first.

Contractor licensed? Check for required licenses, plus proof of workers compensation and liability coverage.

Avoid signing over benefits. Be wary if the contractor tries to convince you to sign over your insurance benefits to the contractor. It could be an insurance scam.

Report scams. If you suspect a contractor scam, report it to the state insurance frauds bureau.

About NYAAIF: More than 100 insurers in the Empire state are alerting consumers about the high price all New Yorkers pay for insurance crime, and are empowering New Yorkers to avoid being scammed.