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Better Business Bureau Helps Avoid Contractor Scams

Steven Depolo
Jo Ann Deal of the Monroe Better Business Bureau advises that there are good ways to avoid being scammed.

In the wake of the recent flood devastation to the area, many people are in a hurry to put things back together as fast as possible. That sense of urgency can open some up to the risk of being taken advantage of by contractors or those posing to be legitimate contractors. Jo Ann Deal of the Monroe branch of the Better Business Bureau advises that there are some ways to avoid being scammed.

"The most important thing to realize is that there are red flags that go up," says Deal. Many contractors are listed in the BBB Directory of Accredited Businesses, but all contractors are required to be licensed with the state. Anyone not willing to readily show their accreditation should be approached with caution. 

Customers should also read contracts thoroughly and make sure they include a cancellation clause. According to Deal, such a clause is vital in order to be able to cancel the work should insurance refuse to cover the cost of repairs. Contracts should also contain the contractor's state registration number.

The most important thing... is that there are red flags. -- Jo Ann Deal

  Deal also cautions consumers to always know the contractor's full name and address as well as his or her business's complete name and address. Then customers should check that business' standings with the BBB and the state contracting board. 

Customers are also urged to avoid paying for work in advance, and never to pay in cash. Deal says this can seem harder to do when one is displaced, but it is crucial in order to be sure the work contracted actually gets done. Consumers should always obtain receipts whenever money is transferred, any price gouging should be reported to the BBB as soon as possible.

"Integrity and trustworthiness is what the BBB's message is all about," says Deal. "Our mantra is 'Start with Trust,' and this is true for consumers as well as contractors and repairers." She says that honesty is expected on the other side of the transaction as well, and customers are advised not to inflate damages or the cost of repair. 

More information is available at the Better Business Bureau's website, and the Louisiana Board of Contractors website. The Louisiana Board of Contractors can also be reached by calling 1-800-256-1391.

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