July 3, 2012

How to Avoid Post Storm Repair Rip Offs

Nan Jensen,
Extension Agent,
Family and Consumer Sciences

If Debby left you with a list of repairs to take care of, Pinellas County Justice and Consumer Services has some helpful tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of a home improvement scams.

  • Watch out for “fly-by-night” contractors who take deposits and do little or no work. Avoid dealing with anyone soliciting work door-to-door. Take the opportunity to check them out first. 
  • Be wary of contractors who ask for advance payment in full. Pay upon completion or as the work progresses. 
  • Beware of any contractor who claims that extensive or structural repairs do not require a permit. The contractor should pull the required building permits, not the homeowner.

Keep the following tips in mind to ensure that your repairs are completed satisfactory: 

  • Deal only with licensed and insured contractors. Verify that the license is current and active by contacting the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board at (727) 582-3100 or
  • Be sure that you have a written contract that details the work to be completed. Also, retain proof of payment for the work in case you need it later. 
  • Require the contractor to supply a final affidavit indicating that all subcontractors and suppliers used on the job are paid in full. 
  • Ensure that the contractor has had the work inspected by the building department before you make final payment. 

To check the complaint history of a business or if you need assistance with a consumer problem, contact Justice & Consumer Services at (727) 464-6200 or visit

For more information check out the University of Florida publication on Avoiding Frauds and Deceptions at

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