Use Caution When Hiring Contractors

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Release date: 
February 18, 2002
Release Number: 

Emporia, KS -- State and federal disaster recovery officials are advising Kansans to be very careful when hiring contractors to repair damage or remove debris from the recent ice storms. They should beware of unscrupulous contractors trying to take advantage of their misfortune.

"Scam artists often try to pass themselves off as 'FEMA certified' or 'FEMA approved,'" said Carlos Mitchell, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) coordinating officer. "FEMA neither certifies nor endorses any private-sector contractor."

"In disaster situations, scam artists are often ready to take advantage of the misfortunes of others," warns Chuck Bredahl, Kansas coordinating officer for the recovery effort.

The Kansas Attorney General's Office offers the following suggestions to disaster victims:

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.

Disaster officials remind ice storm victims that the first and most important step in receiving state and federal aid is calling the FEMA toll-free registration number 1-800-621 FEMA (3362). The number for speech- or hearing-impaired is 1-800-426-7585. Lines are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

  • 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.

  • Pay by check, not cash.

  • Have work inspected by city building inspectors

  • 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.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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