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NY1 For You: Fake Contractors Ready To Prey On Homeowners Affected By Sandy

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As devastated communities begin to rebuild in the wake of Sandy, homeowners have reason to fear scam artists who may try to prey on their misfortune. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following NY1 For You report.

Sandy had a crushing effect on Helena Ottaviano, who barely escaped a fallen tree that smashed through the roof of her home in Throgs Neck, Bronx.

"The tree fell on my head but thank god it didn't hurt me," says Ottaviano.

As Ottaviano rebuilds, she has even more reason to be concerned.

"After every single disaster there are people, basically crooks, who go door to door and they will scare people by saying, 'Look, unless you sign with me today and you give me a deposit, your work won't get done,'" says Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute.

Consumer advocates warn these scare tactics are used by crooked contractors taking advantage of homeowners affected by the disaster.

"All you need to do now is start the claims process and you can also ask your insurance company for recommendations for people to do the work," says Salvatore.

It is a good rule of thumb to avoid contractors who come to the door unannounced. Contact an insurance company before making repairs, never pay cash and always use a licensed contractor.

Other red flags include offers for free repairs, offers to cover the insurance deductible and requests for large down-payments.

No more than 20 percent should be put down for repairs.

Those tips will spare Ottaviano and those suffering from Sandy from further distress.

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