LAPLACE — As the area continues to recover from Hurricane Ida, St. John the Baptist Parish officials would like to remind residents to be aware of individuals or companies who use natural disasters to steal funds from victims of storms.
Residential contractor fraud, according to the Louisiana Legislature, is defined under LA RS:14-202.1 as “the misappropriation or intentional taking of anything of value which belongs to another, either without the consent of the other to the misappropriation or taking, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations by a person who has contracted to perform any home improvement or residential construction, or who has subcontracted for the performance of any home improvement or residential construction.”
Some of the best ways to avoid contractor fraud are to:
· Verify whether a contractor is licensed or registered to do construction in Louisiana before you make a down payment or sign a contract. There are three ways to check licensure through LSLBC:
· Check their license via the LSLBC website at lacontractor.org. or call 1-800-256-1392.
· Be sure you learn the contractor’s full name, business address and take note of their physical description.
· Ask them for references from previous clients, check their reviews via internet and social media.
· Get the phone number and call it in their presence to ensure they are the phone account holder.
· Ask them for proof of liability and workers compensation insurance.
· Ask to see their contractor’s license.
· Take note of the vehicle they are driving, record the license plate number.
· Be sure you are supplied a detailed estimate and contract, signed by the contractor in your presence, be sure the contract has estimated dates of start and completion.
· NEVER give a down payment exceeding 10 percent of the total project cost!
· NEVER pay for projects not yet completed!
· Always get at least three estimates for the repairs, as this may be required by your insurance provider.
· Use local contractors when possible.
· Keep a detailed log of all conversations you have. Use email communication as much as possible.
· NEVER pay with cash or money order. Always use checks or a credit card.
· NEVER give them more information than is needed for them to submit an estimate or perform the job.