Avoiding Contractor Fraud During Hurricane Ian Cleanup
(October 2, 2022) With cleanup and recovery efforts underway, the Cape Coral Police Department would like to remind our residents of the importance of partnering with a licensed contractor when undertaking these projects. Natural Disasters, such as Hurricane Ian, can create opportunities for fraudulent contractors to take advantage of our residents who are eagerly looking for assistance with cleanup and repairs.
During this time of recovery, Southwest Florida will begin to see an increasing number of contracting services which includes local companies, as well as companies throughout the State of Florida, and those from out of state. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued an Emergency Order 2022-03, which waives the requirement for certified or registered, general, building, or residential contractors to subcontract roofing work for the repair or installation of any roof type in listed counties, including Lee County. The DBPR website offers additional information related to Emergency Order 2022-03 and can be found at https://www.myfloridalicense.com
As the community begins to rebuild, the Cape Coral Police Department reminds you to use due diligence and protect yourself when working with a contractor.
- Make sure that your contractor is appropriately licensed for the work being conducted. You can always verify licensure yourself through the Florida DBPR website.
- All licensed contractors are required to have their license number on all business cards, contracts, estimates, vehicles, etc.
- Make sure that your contractor carries workman’s compensation and insurance coverage – which could become a liability to the homeowner if the service does not have coverage and an injury and/or additional damage occurs on your property
- Always verify that subcontracting companies are actually authorized to perform work under a licensed company/business
Other tips that the Cape Coral Police Department recommends:
- If you receive unsolicited phone calls or door-to-door visits, please verify that the person actually works for the company offering to perform work
- When entering into a contract, make sure it is a legitimate contract that details the work to be performed and the expected price to be paid
- Do NOT pay the full price upfront, only pay a deposit for the work to be performed
- Do NOT make final payment until work has been completed and inspected
- Always get receipts for any payments made to a contractor
- Retain all copies of contracts, agreements, receipts, and change orders
- It is recommended to not pay cash and use a form of payment that can show proof of payment, i.e., checks, cashier’s checks, etc.
- Know what documents you are signing and ask questions. If you need to, confirm with an attorney that the documents you are agreeing to are in your best interest
If there are instances of unlicensed contracting, price gouging, or other fraudulent practices related to rebuilding our community, residents are urged to contact the Cape Coral Police Department.
To report an Unlicensed Contractor performing work within the City of Cape Coral, call 239-242-3783 or email Cape Coral Code compliance at email@example.com or Cape Coral Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org
To report Price Gouging, contact the Florida Attorney General’s Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226, or report violations online at http://myfloridalegal.com
Residents can also verify the license of an adjustor or attorney through the Florida Department of Financial Services website, at http://www.myfloridacfo.com
The Federal Communications Center (FCC) provides information on avoiding Disaster-Related Scams, which can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/after_storms_watch_out_for_scams.pdf