TAMPA - When a tropical storm like Debby comes romping through the Tampa Bay area, it's a good time to be a roofer.
Unfortunately, in your time of need, not every contractor can be trusted.
The only damage to David Hayden's South Tampa roof in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby is a gutter system clogged with leaves. Other homes and businesses didn't fare so well in the last few days, which is why roofers have more work than they can handle.
Having spent 45 years in the building business, Hayden knows some of them are up to no good.
"They make their living off the weather map. They follow the storms around and get the money up front from poor desperate people and they're gone. You'll never see them again," said Hayden.
Dennis Hunter of Rainflow Guttering says a demand for money up front should be a red flag.
"It's my opinion that if a contractor wants a deposit, he doesn't have the money to do the job. I do the job. When you're happy, you pay me," said Hunter.
The Better Business Bureau recommends using only licensed contractors that are bonded and insured. Get multiple bids, with written estimates.
The situation may seem dire in the wake of a storm, but making a hasty decision on home repairs can haunt you for years.
"It's better to wait and put some tarps on stuff. Even if you sustain a little more damage, just wait it out and get a tried and true contractor," said Hayden.
The BBB warns consumers to be especially wary of door-to-door workers claiming to have leftover material from a job down the street. You should also take a hard look at any contractor without a permanent place of business you can find on a map.