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Those impacted by Ian are reporting scams from certain contractors, BBB says

For those rebuilding following Hurricane Ian's impacts, there's a sense of urgency to get the work started, and scammers are taking advantage.

TAMPA, Fla — For those impacted by Hurricane Ian, the focus is shifting to rebuilding. For many, there is a sense of urgency in getting work started. Often, the longer you wait, the worse the damage can be. 

That urgency is what scammers are honing in on.

"Our office here in West Florida, in Clearwater, has been receiving calls daily, hundreds of calls," Bryan Oglesby, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau West Florida, said.

Scammers waste no time. People needing storm repair work are calling in to vet contractors. But not all called the BBB before signing a contract, according to Oglesby.

"We've had several consumers contact us saying they paid money and haven't heard back from the company," he said.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation said they encourage Floridians to make sure their contractors are Florida-licensed. 

“As structural repairs and rebuilding get underway, licensed contractors offer the only safe, legal and accountable way to have work done,” DBPR Secretary Melanie Griffin said. “You can bet that fraudsters will come out of the woodwork in the days and weeks ahead. 

"The key safeguard is only doing business with professionals you confirm are properly licensed in Florida. Ask for their license information. Verify your contractor by using the DBPR mobile app or visiting MyFloridaLicense.com.”

Doing work without a state license during a state of emergency is a felony. For homeowners, it can be costly. 

DBPR warned that receiving substandard work can result in an extensive loss in home value, financial cost to the homeowner and be a potential danger to those in the home. In worst cases, lack of proper permitting or proof of work performed could result in difficulty or inability to sell the home.

"Now that people are in the recovery mode, a lot of people probably don't even realize they've been scammed," Oglesby said.

If you've got questions or concerns about the companies you're working with, you can check BBB's website or give them a call at 239-334-4648.

Malique Rankin is a general assignment reporter with 10 Tampa Bay. You can email her story ideas at mrankin@10tampabay.com and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

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