Madison, WI,
01
March
2014
|
11:14 PM
America/Chicago

Could You Be the Next Victim of Contractor Fraud?

These preventive measures can help you avoid being duped.

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What’s worse than having your property damaged by a storm? Being swindled by scam artists and crooked contractors who don’t make repairs.

Take the case of Jane,* one of our customers.

After a bad storm, an alleged “contractor” knocked on her door and said she qualified for a free roof. Next, he asked to see Jane’s insurance information, which she provided.

Armed with this newly acquired information, he falsely claimed that Jane’s agent sent him to “help” her out. She ultimately was duped into signing paperwork to have her roof fixed, which the bogus contractor failed to do.

“It is so unfortunate when this happens,” says Jolene Cloyd, a senior field investigator at American Family Insurance. “These types of solicitors act like they are helping out, but really it is for their own personal gain. We don’t want people to be taken advantage of.”

Some of the most common examples of contractor fraud include:

  • Obtaining advance payment for repairs, and then never showing up to complete the job.
  • Starting a job and not completing it after receiving payment up front.
  • Using cheap materials and poor workmanship to make a bigger profit.

Before you hire a contractor for repairs, follow these steps to avoid potential fraud:

  • Get more than one estimate.
  • Get everything in writing.
  • Obtain references and check them out.
  • Never pay in full or sign a completion certificate before work is completed and you've confirmed it's code-compliant.

If you’re an American Family Insurance customer, and if you suspect you’ve been the victim of contractor fraud, please contact our Special Investigations Unit at (608) 242-4100, ext. 31061.

Remember, please contact your American Family agent first in the event of storm-related damage.

* Name changed to maintain confidentiality.

Check out these related resources:

Don’t Be Victimized (Again) After a Disaster or Accident

Hiring the Right Contractor