SEFFNER - Residents on Faithway Drive in Seffner are trying to mourn the loss of Jeff Bush, who was swallowed up by a sinkhole Thursday.
Only, their grieving time is being interrupted by phone calls, door knocks and the sound of mailboxes opening and closing by contractors, inspectors and lawyers.
"It is just like ambulance chasers," said Pat Rover, a resident.
Over the past few days, Rover told ABC Action News her phone has been ringing off the hook.
"We've had three contacts of people wanting to represent you," Rover explained.
Among the reputable business people soliciting those in Seffner are scam artists, warns the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency.
"Don't make the matter worse by getting scammed," said Kevin Jackson, a chief investigator with the HCCPA.
Jackson spoke to residents on Faithway Drive in the past few days. While many who live on the street are renters, it was homeowners who needed to hear Jackson's message.
He suggested homeowners call their insurance agent, before committing to a contractor.
"If there is insurance, you want to go through them first and have them approve the claim, approve the process, approve who is going out there," Jackson said.
Homeowners without insurance are urged to research and ask questions before entering into any contract.
"Do some research with the company. How long have they been around? Check for complaints. Check for property licensing," Jackson added.
One of the worse things you can do is rush into a decision only to end up duped.
The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation offers the following consumer safety tips:
- Review any contract before you sign it
- Contact your insurance company to make sure work performed is covered under your insurance policy
- Avoid paying in cash.
- Avoid any contractor who requires full payment in advance
- Arrange to pay after the contractor completes the work or in agreed-upon installments
- Don't sign off that work is completed until all work is finished according to your contract and your contractor has cleared all permits with final inspection approval from the building department
- If you contract exceeds $2,500 become familiar with the Florida Construction Lien Law.
- Most jobs require permits. Always check with your local building department regarding permits needed for your project.
The Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency can be reached at 813.903.3430
To verify a contractor's license, or to file a complaint against a contractor, call 850.487.1395 or go to the department's website: www.MyFloridaLicense.com
Report Unlicensed Activity Toll-Free at 1.866.532.1440.
For information about the Florida Construction Lien Law click the following link: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statue&Search_String=&URL=Ch0713/PART01.HTM