SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Following severe weather events late Tuesday night that caused damage, police in Shreveport are warning residents of potential contractor fraud.

The damage done was thanks to a mix of wind, rain, and at least one confirmed EF-0 tornado in Shreveport. Surveys are continuing as weather allows.

Get exclusive severe weather details on storms as they approach your area by downloading the Arklatex Weather Authority app now available in the App Store and Google Play

Shreveport Police Chief Wayne Smith shared tips Wednesday on how to spot potentially fraudulent contractors who might be trying to take advantage of people.

  • Question requests for payment in full prior to the project beginning. If a contractor asks for this, think twice before doing business with them. It is not unusual for a contractor to request some money upfront. Research the company and demand to see their contractor’s license and verify that by looking them up through the Secretary of State’s webpage. Also, contact the insurance company and verify that they are indeed insured. A reputable contractor will never take issue with that.
  • Insist on a contract and go over every detail in the contract with the business. It would be a good idea to have a witness present and ask that the witness be able to sign the contract.
  • Don’t attempt to save money by hiring a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend who can “fix” things. This is especially important if you are having big projects completed. If you do use unlicensed “handymen” understand that you are doing that at your own risk and may never recover your money or get your job completed.
  • Most legitimate contractors offer no charge for an estimate, but as always, be cautious. During the inspection, be extra attentive to the contractor’s assessment. Some contractors will target senior citizens and perform inspections in places of their homes where the homeowner can’t access like attics and underneath the house. This is an easy way for a contractor to “make up” damage that simply is not there.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau website and always try to get three quotes.

Smith says prevention is key and if people do not follow these tips it could make it difficult to prove criminality. He also says if people feel like they have been a part of fraudulent contracting to file a report with Shreveport police.