State officials warn flood victims of contractor claims

As residents in southeastern Minnesota continue to clean up after record floods, officials are telling homeowners to be wary of contractors claiming to be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA officials say the agency neither certifies nor endorses any private-sector contractors.

Homeowners who are contacted by contractors claiming to represent FEMA, or who say they are endorsed by FEMA, should get as much information as possible from the contractor and contact state authorities.

State officials encourage flood victims to call the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to verify contractors are licensed and to learn if there is a history of disciplinary action with that contractor.

Homeowners can also verify the status of a contractor’s license online at DLI’s Licensing/Certificate website.

Other tips from the state Department of Labor include:

– Do not to sign anything presented by a contractor unless you read the document very carefully and have made a firm decision to hire that contractor;

– Ask for the contractor’s license number and contact the Department of Labor and Industry at 651-284-5069 or 1-800-342-5354 to verify the builder is currently licensed and to find out if they have a disciplinary history;

– Ask the contractor how long and where they have been in business;

Ask for references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the work;

Ask for a Minnesota business address other than a post office box and a local phone number;

Officials also recommend homeowners avoid contractors who arrive in unmarked cars, ask you to sign an estimate or authorization before you have decided to actually hire them or appear to be willing to do the job at an unusually low price. Homeowners also should steer clear of contractors who require full or substantial payment before work begin, refuse to provide a written estimate or contract; or refuse to provide a license number issued by the state of Minnesota.

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