Tips to avoid contractor fraud post-storms

Published: May. 21, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - As more people search for contractors post-flooding, there’s been an influx of homeowners seeking legal action as a result of contractor fraud in the past few months.

Local attorney Hailey Barnett says there are tips you use before, during and after to protect yourself from contractor fraud.

1.) The most important thing she says is to make sure they have the proper licensure.

“I’d say the biggest thing is you want to make sure your contractor first is licensed, and you can look upon the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website.”

She explains contracting without a license within Louisiana is illegal.

“You also want to make sure that they are insured, and that you get a copy of their insurance policy just in case anything happens to the contract or one of their workers on your property that insurance covers both you and the contractor in case anything like that happens. You want to be sure that they are also bonded as well because that can be helpful. If you need to sue the contractor, you can challenge the bond.”

2.) Get everything in writing.

“Don’t have an oral contract, have a written contract that both parties have read and signed. And if you are not sure about a provision in the contract, you can always contact an attorney. And if you’re unsure, don’t sign it.”

3.) Be wary of out-of-state contractors.

“If something does happen, you can’t hold them responsible as much as you could a local person. Plus someone who’s local is often going to have reviews. That’s another thing to be sure too that you check - Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau for reviews. And ask around and get multiple bids from different people, for sure.”

One large way you can avoid contractor fraud is knowing when to pay.

“Honestly, in my opinion, the best thing to do is not pay until the work is complete. A good contractor is going to have the adequate funds to pay for supplies, materials is going to be able to cover the labor costs. And a reputable contractor is going to be okay with you paying at the completion of the job.”

For more information on legal services, call Acadiana Legal Services, at 337-439-0377.

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