- Shop around. Try to avoid “drive-by” offers from door-to-door solicitors, and get estimates from several contractors before making a selection. Don’t be rushed into a contract, even if it may be necessary to act quickly.
- Know the contractor. Use reputable contractors you already know, and be concerned about unknown companies that promise repair work at extremely low prices. Generally, don’t do business without getting the company’s background first. Often, a company’s track record may be reviewed through the Better Business Bureau ( www.bbb.org). In addition, many contractors are required to be licensed and are regulated by the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board ( aclb.arkansas.gov).
- Check with local officials. Many cities or counties may have their own clean-up efforts. Be wary of those individuals who claim to be authorized by a municipality to clean up debris or trim tree limbs.
- Put it in writing. When entering into a contract, put it in writing. Indicate exactly the work that is to be completed and exactly how it is completed. The contract should always include all details about the price and any required financing. If the payment will involve funds you expect to receive from an insurance claim, contact your insurance carrier directly, rather than authorizing the contractor to negotiate with the insurance carrier.
- Don’t pay in advance. Insist on paying for the services after they have been completed to satisfaction, and never hand over a large amount of money up front.
McDaniel urged consumers to call the Attorney General’s Office to report possible fraud or scams related to home repair or debris removal. The Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline is (501) 682-2341 or (800) 482-8982. More information is also available on the Attorney General’s website, www.arkansasag.gov.