GEMA Warns of Unlicensed Contractors

If you're cleaning up after this week's storms, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency says you need to beware of another danger: unlicensed contractors. GEMA is warning residents to be careful when hiring contractors for disaster repairs. Many scam artists often take advantage of disasters to prey on homeowners.

Look for Licensed Contractors
GEMA recommends you check with your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce for a list of licensed contractors in your area.

Ask for a written estimate on all repairs. Get several estimates from licensed contractors before choosing one. Make sure you read the fine print in any contract before signing it.

Check References
Ask for the names and phone numbers of previous customers. Call several to find out if they were satisfied with the contractor's work quality.

Get Proof of Insurance
Make sure the contractor can show you proof of insurance. They should carry general liability insurance and worker's compensation. An uninsured contractor means you could be liable for accidents on the job.

Get It In Writing
Make sure you have a written contract stating all the work that needs to be done, the costs and payment schedule. The contract should also state who will apply for any necessary permits or licenses. Insist on a signed copy of the contract for yourself. Any guarantees or warrantees should also be written into the contract.

Have the work inspected.

Make your final payments once the work is finished. GEMA recommends not signing completion papers or making the final payment until the job is completed to your satisfaction. DO NOT pay cash up front!

Problems or Questions?
For complaints, notify the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-869-1123. For more information about hiring a contractor, log on to the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs website at