WICHITA, Kan. -- State and federal disaster recovery officials advise Kansans to be extremely careful when hiring contractors to clean and repair disaster damage or remove disaster debris. Some scam artists claim to be "FEMA certified."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) neither certifies nor endorses any private-sector contractor. Individuals and government entities should be extremely cautious when hiring contractors after any disaster.
"In disaster situations, scam artists are often ready to take advantage of the misfortunes of others," warns Tiffany Ball of the Kansas Attorney General's Office.
"The recovery process can be a positive one if you take your time, and select a contractor with great care," added Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Coordinating Officer Curt Musgrave.
The Kansas Attorney General's Office is offering the following suggestions:
- Use reliable licensed contractors and hire local contractors if possible.
- Get a written estimate.
- Check references.
- Get proof of insurance.
- Ask for a written contract.
- Ask for a written guarantee.
- Pay by check.
- Have work inspected.
- If necessary, cancel a contract within three business days of signing, being sure to follow contract cancellation clauses. Send notification of cancellation by registered mail.
Persons who are having problems with a contractor or have been victims of fraud are urged to call the Kansas Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division. The toll-free number is 1-800-432-2310.