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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sedgwick County: Use care when seeking storm repairs, services

By Tim Potter
The Wichita Eagle

Sedgwick County is asking residents with storm damage to use caution when seeking repairs from contractors.

“Scam artists are quick to descend in times of natural disasters,” the county said in an e-mail.

“Possible businesses might include roofing contractors, landscapers, siding contractors, tree service, window contractors and auto body repair companies.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Annette Haga said Tuesday that she senses that contractors from elsewhere have yet to arrive, so it might be too early for reports of possible scams.

There could be a volunteer effort today to monitor traffic going into the heavily damaged Pinaire Mobile Home Park, which is private property, Haga said. Sheriff’s officers are busy focusing on other priorities, including traffic control and routine public safety responses, she said. About eight extra deputies are working Tuesday, and sheriff’s officers are on duty in the Oaklawn area around the clock, she said.

There have been some reports of residents giving scrap metal to people collecting it. On Monday, sheriff’s officers arrested two men who had scrap metal with them; the men, one from Valley Center and the other from Rose Hill, were arrested on a drug warrant and weapons charges.

The county provided these tips to avoid repair scams:

•  Ask for proof of licensing and bonding.

•  Try to get at least three to four quotes from contractors and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.

•  Never pay in cash, and do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full payment up front.

•  Do not hire people who show up at your door offering services such as tree or debris removal and roof repair.

•  Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.

•  Check out the company first with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org and deal only with reputable local contractors.

•  Get a written contract that specifies the price and the work to be done and a time frame.

•  Prices are often high in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Buy only the services that are necessary to make your home safe and habitable.

•  Be sure that all promises made are put in writing.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com

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