Preventing contractor scams after major storms

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) – Already FEMA has deployed more than 1,800 inspectors to Texas to take a look at homes damaged by Harvey, but as people begin to rebuild, FEMA and the BBB are still telling homeowners to be vigilant against scammers.

Virtually everything Andrea Flaven owns is on her curb.

Flaven says, “The water started coming in under the doors and through the walls.”

Now she and her husband are like all of their neighbors. Slowly cleaning up and rebuilding.

“We’re having an appraiser come in on Friday to tell us how much our insurance will pay us.”

And while the flies begin to swarm around the rot and the mold and mildew, she says there are also parasites lurking amongst the piles of debris. Would-be-contractors making all sorts of unsolicited promises.

“They never told me what they were going to do. They were really focused on how much money they could save us, how well they were known. ”

One in particular really bothered her.

“He was really slick. And I thought, you know I’m short but I’m not stupid. ”

So she called the Better Business Bureau. The first one post-Harvey to report a contractor.

Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau, said “Anyone that approaches and you don’t know who they are. They’re basically a stranger to you. You shouldn’t hire them on the spot or sign anything that they give you or give any money up front at all. ”

Francisca Aguirre with the Harris County Attorney’s Office says, “People need to be very cautious.”

Francisca Aguirre is with the Harris County Attorney’s Office. They caution homeowners not to pay the whole bill up front and don’t sign anything before talking to your insurance company. And they suggest doing research.

Aguirre adds, “That they talk to at least three contractors to get different bids to see who would give them the best quote.”

Andrea Flaven won’t be fooled. But she worries about so many of her neighbors.

In my age group there are a lot of people who would fall for that. They look like angels in disguise in pickups and I’m not real thrilled with that. “

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