Those looking to rebuild properties following natural disasters can easily be hoodwinked by phony contractors who make false promises and even receive cash for work that isn't performed, according to the Southwestern Indiana Builders Association.
Following other disasters, contractors have sometimes appeared to further victimize residents "by swindling them out of their precious and often limited resources," said Bill Pedtke, executive director of the local builders group.
It has sometimes happened on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it was a prominent topic of discussion at a recent national conference of builders associations, said Bill Badger, president of the local group.
There are also warning signs.
The local builders association cautions residents against paying in cash or paying 100 percent of the cost before work is even done.
Contractors should never tell residents that written contracts or permits aren't necessary, or that a "special low price" only applies if the contract is immediately signed.
Residents should be wary of contractors with no references or who have no verifiable contact information.