Image of workman's beltWith hundreds of residents still assessing the damage caused by the weekend’s destructive wind and rain storm, residents need to be wary of unscrupulous contractors when arranging for repairs.

The Department of Consumer Protection issued the reminder today, urging all homeowners faced with fixing up properties damaged by falling trees and strong wind gusts to “do their homework.’ Even though there is often a sense of urgency in such situations, Acting Director John Gaccione stressed the importance of not acting too quickly.

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of dishonorable contractors out there who thrive on other people’s misfortune,” he said. “It’s up to the homeowner to protect themselves by making sure anyone they hire is licensed, has the necessary experience, and is giving you a fair price.”

Gaccione gives the following tips:

  • Never respond to an unsolicited, quick fix offer of help.
  • Don’t rush into signing with a contractor for repairs.
  • Beware of persons claiming they can act as an “insurance adjuster” on your behalf and line up a home repair contractor for you.
  • Allow your insurance company to give you guidance. Remember this is why you pay for insurance.
  • Keep in contact with your insurance company. Ask questions and take notes. Take pictures of the damaged areas of your home and yard. Keep a list of any personal items that were ruined in the storm.
  • Use local contractors, don’t use out of the area companies that “just happened” to be in the area. Contractors have to be licensed with the Department of Consumer Protection.
  • Unless you are qualified, don't try repairs yourself. Your safety comes first.
  • Don't cut corners and take short cuts trying to save money. It will only cost you later on.

For tips on hiring a contractor or to find out if a contractor is licensed, call the Department of Consumer Protection at (914)995-2155 or go to