Davenport, IA -- State and federal disaster recovery officials advise Iowans 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. If someone does contact you stating they represent FEMA or that FEMA gave them your name, you should get as much information as you can about the contractor, then contact the State Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division at 1-515-281-5926 and FEMA's Fraud Line at 1-800-323-8603.
The recovery process can be a positive one if you take your time and select a contractor with great care.
The Iowa 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 and do not pay for all expenses in advance.
- 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.