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10 tips to avoid getting scammed by a contractor

Allstate Insurance reminds residents to protect themselves from unscrupulous contractors. A good, trustworthy contractor can be a key partner in the rebuilding process. However, unscrupulous contractors may take advantage of people who have recently experienced a catastrophic event.

Ten tips to avoid getting scammed:

1. Take your time in choosing a contractor to repair your home.

2. Get estimates from several licensed, bonded contractors.

3. Check their credentials with your local Better Business Bureau or Home Builders Association.

4. Inspect contractors' licenses and proof of liability insurance.

5. Get a contract in writing.

6. Avoid paying money up-front. Some reputable contractors will require partial, up-front payment, but these pre-work payments shouldn't exceed the cost of materials or 20 percent of the total estimate.

7. Follow local building codes and inspection procedures.

8. If anyone performs unauthorized work on your house or property and demands payment, consider contacting local authorities.

9. Don't sign over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.

10. Immediately report any suspicious behavior to your local police, sheriff's department or your state's Department of Insurance.