After the storm
Avoiding scams after natural disasters
Property cleanup and repair
Never pay the full price up front.
Establish a payment schedule and adhere to it. Withhold final payment until the entire project is completed to your satisfaction and all required inspections and certificates of occupancy are finalized.
Always be sure the contractor has valid insurance.
If a worker is injured, or damage is caused on your property, you could be held liable if your contractor does not have the required insurance.
Ask for references, check for licenses.
Ask about local work contractors have done. Talk to the people who hired them; look at the jobs if you can. Make sure the contractor has any license required by your local government.
Estimates are important: Get them in writing.
Ask that all estimates for work be in writing and include a description of the material to be used. Be clear that you will not pay for work done that is not agreed upon in writing. Verify that the material used is the same as described in the estimate. Make sure any changes to the estimate are in writing.
Check with your permits.
Don’t let a contractor work without the necessary permits. Failing to get approvals can delay your project, or prevent you from occupying a completed building.
Use a contractor with an address you can verify.
If your contractor is “here today and gone tomorrow,” you may find it difficult to enforce the guarantee.
New York law forbids those selling essential consumer goods and services — like food, water, gas, generators, batteries and flashlights, and services such as transportation — from charging excessive prices during an abnormal disruption of the market.
If you believe you are a victim of price gouging, file a complaint with the Consumer Frauds Bureau:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA Helpline: (800) 621-3362
TTY: (800) 462-7585
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville MD 20782-8055
Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR)
Helpline: (844) 969-7474
64 Beaver Street PO BOX 230
New York NY 10004