State Cracks Down on Scam Artists Who Target Flood Victims

State insurance officials are on the lookout for scam artists targeting beach homeowners

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    NEWSLETTERS

    State officials are going door-to-door where many homes suffered water damage by a storm surge in Seal Beach, warning homeowners of insurance scam artists and the precautions to take when trying to fix a water damaged home. Randy McIlwain reports for NBC4 news at 5 p.m. from Seal Beach Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.

    Flooding has damaged dozens of homes in the Seal Beach area over the past few days.

    And while there was little that could be done to combat the surf, state officials are working to prevent any man-made disasters caused by scam artists preying on flood victims.

    Hector Brown's apartment was flooded, ankle deep with water and sand, and before he could open his garage this morning -- "I got approached right away, very quickly," Brown said.

    Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Insurance, said scam artists are taking advantage of people when they're vulnerable.

    Kincaid said this type of disaster response is to inform homeowners of their rights and responsibilities when trying to get their homes fixed.

    "You want to make sure that they have workers compensation insurance," Kincaid said.

    Any contractor working on your home without workers comp, makes you responsible for their healthcare if they're injured.

    A contractor showed up at Brown's home while NBC4 was there.

    The contractor was legitimate.

    For Brown it's relief, knowing while overwhelmed emotionally, he has the information and assistance of officers insuring he won't be victimized financially.

    "Someone is looking out," he said. "I commend them on that."

    If you are ever a victim of a disaster and dealing with contractors, here's what you should know:

    • It's a felony for unlicensed contractors to solicit work.
    • Ask for their license;
    • Make sure the contractor has workers compensation insurance, or you're responsible if that worker is hurt at your home.
    • Payments: contractors can only ask for 10 percent of total contract or $1,000 in cash whichever is less up front;
    • Don't pay in cash, reputable businesses will take a credit card or check.
    • Don't make an emotional decision, if you have any doubts about the company soliciting work, do some research, if things don't add up, call police.

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