Residents urged to avoid scams as recovery begins

City to license out-of-town contractors

T-R PHOTO BY HANS MADSEN A Marshalltown family looks over the destruction of their neighborhood on Friday. The city of Marshalltown will require contractors to carry a license to perform work as recovery efforts begin. Residents are being warned of scammers and exchanging money with people who may appear to be reputable companies.

The Marshalltown City Council will hold a special meeting to require out-of-town contractors to be licensed.

Mayor Joel Greer said the ordinance to require contractors to carry a license will serve as the only agenda item for a meeting that officials are scheduling as soon as possible.

Scammers are a major concern, Greer said.

“I’ve heard from communities across the state who have had disasters and these ‘contractors’ who show up, look reputable and take people’s money,” he said.

The city is warning citizens to be diligent about selecting contractors before money is exchanged.

“While most contractors coming to help Marshalltown are reputable, some will not be,” Capt. Brian Batterson or the Marshalltown Police Department said.

The MPD offers the following tips to protect yourself from scams

• Research the business-Obtain the contractor’s name, address and telephone number. Check with the Better Business Bureau, conduct a basic internet search and ask for references.

• Get several estimates and be cautious of a contractor who quotes a price drastically less than others.

• Do not make large payments in advance, be wary of contractors who ask you to sign over your insurance check or ask you to establish a line of credit with a local lumber store.

• Insist on a written contract detailing the costs, the work to be done, the starting and ending dates and any verbal promises made by the contractors.

• Consider paying with a credit card as this may give you greater protections to dispute unauthorized charges, which paying with cash does not.

“If a contractor’s promises seem too good to be true, they probably are,” Batterson said.“If you believe you have been scammed, please call the department as soon as possible as this will give us a better chance to prevent further scams and apprehend those responsible.”