Storm victims need to know the signs of a con artist

Chris Dettro

Residents in the process of cleaning up after Sunday’s storms need to be alert for unscrupulous contractors also trying to clean up on homeowners’ misfortune.

The editor of Insure.com, a Web site specializing in insurance quotes and articles for consumers, says there are things people should do from an insurance standpoint to make sure they get the repairs to which they are entitled.

Frank Buraski, whose Buraski Builders Inc. has been around since 1981, said Tuesday that his company did a lot of temporary repairs after the storm hit and is starting to bid on permanent repairs.

He said he couldn’t tell if less-than-reputable contractors were working neighborhoods hit by the storm Sunday, but said they usually are.

“I think they always are there,” said Amy Danise, editor of Darien-based Insure.com. “And the bigger the disaster, the more opportunity there is. The legitimate contractors can’t take care of the repairs fast enough.”

Danise said one way to avoid scam artists is to “verify their credentials any way you can, through licensing or the Better Business Bureau.”

“But try first to contact a contractor you’re familiar with or someone your neighbors or friends have recommended,” she said.

Buraski said he recommends trying to find someone who has been in business for a while in the Springfield area.

Storm damage repairs often are more hazardous because they usually involve a roof and frequently have to be done in rain or high winds, he said. That makes it even more important that a contractor have insurance.

“Also, be sure and get a date when your contractor will be there to do the work,” Buraski said. “Some contractors will get overbooked, especially the smaller they are.”

Danise said homeowners “have to become great record-keepers for insurance purposes.”

“Document all the damage through photographs,” she said. “And keep all your receipts for things like food and laundry expenses, especially if you’re going to file a claim for additional living expenses.”

Chris Dettro can be reached at (217) 788-1510 orchris.dettro@sj-r.com.