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Wisconsin Department of Agriculture issues warning about fake contractors for storm damage repairs

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The Wisconsin Department Agriculture is warning people cleaning up from flooding about fake contractors.

The fake contractors, sometimes called “storm chasers” will show up at your home offering to do repair work.

The Department of Agriculture says never let them in your home and if you question their credibility, ask to see their certificate of liability insurance.

Officials say to start your search for a contractor by asking for references from neighbors, friends, family, local home builder associations, and your insurance company. You can also contact DATCP's Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128) to check on complaints against a business.

Consider these tips if you seek help with a home repair after a major storm:

  • Ask contractors if they are subcontracting your job. If they are, find out who the subcontractor will be and check them out as well.
  • Get lien waivers from anyone you pay for home repairs. Lien waivers protect you if the person collecting the money does not pay the suppliers or workers.
  • Get a written contract with a start and completion date and warranty information. Also, make certain that the contract states exactly what work is to be done and what materials are to be used. Never rely on a verbal commitment.
  • Check with your local building inspector to see if the work requires a permit. Make sure an inspector visits the job site before you make a final payment.
  • Request a copy of the contractor's certificate of liability insurance.

For more information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at http://datcp.wi.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wi.gov or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

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