It happens almost every time a major storm hits Wisconsin; state consumer protection officials begin receiving calls about contractors showing up at homes offering repairs at cheap prices. With the recent wave of severe weather that swept across southern Wisconsin, officials are expecting it to start again soon.
State Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection spokesman Jerad Albracht says they get several calls about the problem each year. The offers can be very attractive for homeowners, and says that’s partially because it can be hard to pin down someone to make needed repairs in areas hit hard by storms. Having someone standing there who claims they are ready to work can be very appealing to a homeowner with roof damage or downed trees on their property.
Albracht advises against using contractors who show up at your door uninvited. What often ends up happening is they either do a poor job or just take the money and run. Because they are often from another state, it can be difficult for consumers to get their money back. Albracht says “in general, if someone comes door to door after a storm, particularly if they come from out of state or they don’t have any (state) licensing to show you, you’re going to want to ask them to leave.”
Albracht says you should try to stick with contractors who have local references or who have registered with the state to do work here.
There is some good news though for those who might find themselves the victim of a home repair scam. Albracht says a recent change in state law should help identify possible insurance fraud scams before they go through. The law prevents contractors from offering to pay your deductible or to directly negotiate any repairs with your insurance company. The law also gives homeowners a three day right to cancel a contract, if an insurance company denies a claim for the work.