Some types of fraud more common after natural disasters - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Some types of fraud more common after natural disasters

With a lot of damage to homes and businesses in our area, people might be coming this way to take advantage of you. (Source: WMBF News) With a lot of damage to homes and businesses in our area, people might be coming this way to take advantage of you. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A problem common after disasters could lead to less money in your pocket.  With a lot of damage to homes and businesses in our area, people might be coming this way to take advantage of you.

Contractor fraud is common in general, but you're especially at risk after a natural disaster.

Some insurance companies call people who come in to commit contractor fraud storm chasers.  They come in soon after a storm hits, and one of the first things you can do so you don't fall victim to a storm chaser is make sure they're licensed.

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said to make sure the contractor has a state license, and a license for whatever city or county they're doing the work in.

Also:

  • Be wary of someone going door-to-door, selling to you 'on the spot'
  • Get at least three different estimates
  • Verify a permit
  • Don't feel pressured to sign a contract, never sign one with blanks
  • Do not allow contractor to begin work until contract finalized
  • Never fully pay contractor until work is done

"Unfortunately people do take advantage of people that are in need during disasters.  So it's important you take the time to do your homework, document your damage, take photographs, call around, get cost estimates and never pay in full," Bourcier said.

She said no hurricane-related cases of contractor fraud have been reported in Horry County so far.  However, if you're looking to hire a contractor for work, check your local Better Business Bureau.  Complaints and contractor reviews are listed on the BBB's website.

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