PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- High-powered monsoon storms can be damaging enough. But add in raging wildfires, and Arizona can sometimes get hit pretty hard.

The damage left behind can leave homeowners feeling helpless. And, no one likes this time of year better than unscrupulous con men posing as legitimate contractors.

"Don't jump at the first person that comes to you offering these services," said Jeff Fleetham, Director of the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. The agency regulates licensed contractors.

Fleetham, along with 3 On Your Side, has been warning folks for years not to panic if your home has some kind of damage following a storm or fire. "During this time when you have home damage, it’s a sense of urgency; you've got fire damage, wind damage or your roof is leaking, don't make a hurried decision."

That rushed decision usually takes place after you notice any damage. A fake contractor will typically knock on your door, saying he can assist with any repairs you might need, and the price, of course, is always enticing. "What's frustrating is that there are people that will take advantage of those kinds of things," he told 3 On Your Side.

In previous 3 On Your Side reports, we've shown you how the contracting board fans out into affected neighborhoods, warning homeowners to do their homework before hiring out work. You have to if you want to avoid getting ripped off. "Check the references. Talk to your neighbors, your friends,” Fleetham said. “If they've used them before, then get a variety of separate bids.”

Homeowners should always ensure the contractor is licensed for the scope of work to be done. In other words, if your roof needs repairs, don't hire someone that's actually licensed in plumbing. It happens all the time. You can easily verify someone's license by going to the Registrar of Contractor's website.

Also, never pay in cash. The ROC says if you're paying by check, make sure it's written to the name of the company listed in a signed contract and not an individual. "Don't give someone your check like that. Make sure it's a licensed contractor in the state of Arizona. If you don't, there's no recourse. There's not; you're out the money."

Also, be on the lookout for advertisements or flyers taped to your door. They are frequently from scammers looking to drum up work.

Gary Harper's 3 On Your Side reports air weeknights on 3TV News at 9.


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