JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- There are less than scrupulous contractors out there, who prey on people in difficult circumstances.
Even more incredible are the fake offers of state and federal aid to disaster victims. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) encourage Missouri property owners to beware of scam artists that tend to follow disasters.
"Beware of imposters," said Tom Hall, FEMA's federal coordinating officer for disaster operations in Missouri. "FEMA and SEMA representatives always wear photo IDs."
Missouri residents who suspect price gouging or other fraud can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office at www.ago.mo.gov, or by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at (573) 751-3321.
Emergency responders urge residents and businesses to revisit insurance policies, placing important papers in a safe place. Residents with damage should also have an idea of who they will call to make repairs to the home, Hall said.
Here are some basics to consider when dealing with contractors making repairs.
- Use local contractors
- Ask for references
- Ask for a written estimate
- Ask for proof of license, insurance
- Get a written, signed contract
- Do not pay the balance until the job is completed
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and man-made disasters.