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With homes damaged from severe storms, here’s how to spot a scam contractor

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Storm scammers are a lot like cockroaches. They crawl out of their hiding places after every natural disaster and seem impossible to stop.
So homeowners need to be ready for them.

Here are few tips:

Call your insurance company before making home repairs. Your agent can tell you how much coverage you have and might even provide you with a list of preferred contractors.

Don't hire anyone who stops by your house offering to save you money by using materials "left over from another job."

Get multiple estimates.

Demand a written contract with a start and end date.

Research the company before you sign the contract.

Check out their rating on the Better Business Bureau and look at online reviews. Also search for the company name and the owner's name on Missouri CaseNet or Johnson County court records (the two most accessible local courthouse websites) to see if they've ever been sued. Make sure they are registered with either the Missouri or Kansas Secretary of State's office.

Finally, Google the company address. Google Maps should show you whether the address tracks back to an actual office or just to a P.O. Box.

Take a photo of the contractor and his vehicle's license plate. Plus, ask to see his proof of insurance and any necessary license or permit he may need to be working in your city.

Record any transaction with him on video.

Finally, never pay in cash.

The Missouri Department of Insurance has put out this brochure to help people after a disaster.

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