Both the S.C. Emergency Management Division and Department of Consumer Affairs have issued advisories with tips for homeowners to avoid being taken by illegitimate contractors or other service providers.
Among the red flags: Providers who show up unannounced, or who offer a discounted deal because they have “leftover materials” from another job. Also beware of those who only accept cash, use high-pressure tactics or ask for bank or other personal information.
Work through your insurance company for approved contractors, or get references from friends and neighbors.
Ask for proper identification from service providers, preferably via a current business license from the county (Beaufort/Jasper) or municipality (Bluffton/Beaufort/Hilton Head etc.). At the very least, get a full business name, office location and phone number. And check them out.
Get a completed copy of the work contract, with details as to the specific work being performed, and pay with a credit card or check made out to the business.
If you have any doubts about hiring someone, trust your gut. Call 911 if a provider turns up the pressure or you otherwise feel unsafe.
In addition, the South Carolina Association for Justice is offering a free service to South Carolina homeowners who suspect they have been victimized by a scam or other storm-related business misconduct.