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Post-Hurricane Sandy May Bring Out Scammers

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Hurricane Sandy caused severe flooding in Old Town Alexandria.
Jonathan Wilson
Hurricane Sandy caused severe flooding in Old Town Alexandria.

After a big storm like Sandy, unscrupulous contractors may try to take advantage of the bad situation and scam property owners who need repairs.

"What you're going to find is people who will come and hang solicitations on your door, or put something in your mailbox or just come up to your door and knock on it and ask if they can help," says Julie Rochman, head of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

According to the institute, these smooth operators will often give an overly generous estimate and ask for a down payment of 80 to 100 percent. Rochman says never give more than 50 percent upfront.

"Scams can be avoided by making sure that whoever you hire is licensed, is bonded, and is ensured," says Rochman. "Even better, if it's somebody who's local, who's been in business for some period of time, who may be a friend or a neighbor or a better business bureau or your insurance company has recommended to you, that would be great."

Rochman says it's also important to have a contract.

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