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Orange County offers tips to avoid contractor fraud after TS Debby

Fraud is a common problem following a storm, unit says

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orange County Consumer Fraud Unit reports they are receiving calls about leaking roofs and storm damage and wants to remind residents to be careful when picking your contractors.

According to the unit, a common problem after a severe weather event are "storm-chasers" who come into a community and offer to do work with little regard for Florida building code standards. They are often unlicensed, uninsured, require large deposits and are here one day and gone the next. Persons engaging in unlicensed activity are breaking the law.

The Orange County Consumer Fraud Unit advises when hiring a contractor, consumers should:

  • Always ask to see the contractor's license and then verify that the license is in good standing. To check a license, call 850-487-1395 or visit: www.myfloridalicense.com. An occupational license (now called business tax receipt) is NOT a contractor's license.
  • Get at least three written estimates. Be certain that estimates are itemized and for the same work and materials.
  • Avoid any contractor who requires large payments in advance.
  • Before any construction begins and after the building permit is issued record a Notice of Commencement with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
  • Request from the contractor a list of all subcontractors and suppliers who have provided services or materials for your job.
  • Don't sign the completion certificate until all work is finished to your satisfaction and all permits are cleared via a final inspection.

If you have a complaint against an unlicensed contractor in Orange County, call Orange County Consumer Fraud at (407) 836-2490. If your complaint concerns an unlicensed contractor in another county call the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850-488-6603.