LOUISIANA (KLFY) — Following reports of contractor fraud in the area, homeowners are being advised to be aware of what to look for when seeking a reputable contractor.

Contractor fraud usually happens when people who are in need of repairs pay for services they never receive, and when repairs are needed due to bad weather or emergencies, an increase in contractor fraud can be seen.

JP Underwood with Sibley Construction told News 10 that people should be on the lookout for contractors during this time.

“It is a problem. Particularly when we have a catastrophic event like a flood or a hurricane. There are so many contractors that descend on an area that are from out of town that don’t have good track records and those are the ones that you’re going to want to watch out for.”

Chris Babin with the Better Business Bureau also said that it is important to report contractor fraud because it makes people aware of who they should be cautious about using. He said that there’s also a possibility to get justice if you are a victim of fraud or being scammed.

“With being able to report it gives you a little bit of justice hopefully and being able to communicate that information out, it steers our communication efforts. We do work closely with the agencies like the contractor’s board.”

Some ways to ensure avoiding contractor fraud are to check if they have a website or local telephone number. Check with the Better Business Bureau for licenses, make sure the contractor is an approved vendor, do not pay for services upfront, and read everything before signing a contract.

Both Underwood and Babin urge people to be cautious when looking for a contractor and take the necessary steps to avoid fraud. Underwood said that “at the end of the day you want to have your home repaired as quickly as possible but at the same time you don’t want to step into a trap where you’ve been taken advantage of.”

“Find a business that you can trust…find a business that’s accredited that performs the services or sales the products that you’re looking for, that way you avoid being hassled at all,” Babin added.