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Tips for preventing contractor scams

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BATON ROUGE - There are several ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a bad contractor's scam.

When you see a great deal you might not think twice about checking out a contractor. The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) says that is the biggest mistake you can make.

"More often than not the consumer is more interested in the pricing, and cheap prices don't always indicate the best result," said LSLBC Executive Director Michael McDuff.

A few elderly Baker residents learned that the hard way when Tanweer Bhatti and his company Southern Siding allegedly made off with $500,000 while promising home repairs. Bhatti was arrested by Baker Police Monday. LSLBC revoked the license for Southern Siding a few months ago after the company plead "no contest" to charges of fraud and failing to perform contracts.

"In Louisiana there's lots of great contractors. Unfortunately for the consumers there are a lot of unqualified, unscrupulous contractors that are not licensed that we have to enforce and try to protect the public," said McDuff.

LSLBC has revoked seven contractor licenses so far this year and suspended 177 licenses for missing insurance after receiving more than 300 complaints. The board meets twice a month and keeps a database updated with licensed contractors. The board says it is worth doing a little digging before shelling out any cash.

"If they need information to verify a license you can contact this office, but also check on other work that the contractor has done to make sure that they've completed the work and certainly not to pay up front any percentage beyond 10 percent of the contract value," said McDuff.

You can look into whether a contractor has a license on the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website here.


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