SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We are already almost two months into hurricane season and so far, we've been lucky, but we all know that could change in a hurry.
Whether it's a hurricane or another disaster, there are always scammers looking to take advantage of the situation.
It usually doesn't take long after a weather event such as a hurricane, for scammers to get right to work, often offering to do tree removal or home repair. We've got some important advice from Georgia's Attorney General to help make sure that whoever you hire is legitimate and that you don't get taken.
"Make sure that you know who you are hiring. Make sure that you get folks that have a good reputation and you can check their references and never pay up front entirely," said Georgia Attorney General, Chris Carr.
- Ask for referrals from friends, neighbors, or co-workers
- Check with Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints
- Make sure the person or company doing work is licensed. You can verify this on the Secretary of State's website
- Get written bids from several contractors
- Insist on a written contract with guarantees, warranties, and promises in writing
"Make sure you know how much they are going to charge you and make sure that it covers everything," Carr said. "Number two, make sure the contract is in writing. Make sure that you know what the scope of the work is going to be in writing. Make sure they give that to you. The third thing is that you never pay all the money up front. You may have to give a little bit at the front end, and that is okay, but never pay the entire amount until you see the work completed and it's completed to your satisfaction."
Use a credit card if you can. It will give you more protection against fraud. The Attorney General's Office says you need to watch for people posing as insurance agents or FEMA representatives in the wake of a disaster.
If any "so-called" representative asks you for a payment, it's a scam, which could make an already bad situation even worse.