Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has a warning for flood victims in northern and eastern Iowa.
“We’ve seen in the past, time and time again when there is a flood of natural disaster, it draws in fraudsters from around the country,” Miller says. He’s urging Iowans to take steps to protect themselves when they seek professional help for flood-related cleanup or repairs.
Miller recommends researching a contractor’s background before signing any agreement. You can do so by checking if there are any complaints on file with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau. Miller says it’s also a good idea to request a copy of the contractor’s driver’s license or professional permit.
“If they don’t want to give it to you, that’s a pretty big danger signal that something is amiss here,” Miller said. Possibly the most important fraud prevention tip, according to Miller, is never pay a contractor before the work begins.
“Sometimes they need some money to buy the materials, and that can be reasonable, but make the check out to the hardware store or someplace where they are going to go,” Miller said. “Don’t give them money until you have seen the work and you’re satisfied with the work.” Miller cautions flood victims to be especially wary of those who solicit business door-to-door.