By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Recent storms have left many people scrambling to find contractors to help repair damage, but how do they know they’re not getting scammed?

After a storm rolls through, the cleanup begins. But for many, they don’t know where to start the process.

“Most people never go through an event like that in their life, so it’s a really hard learning curve on picking out a contractor, figuring out what needs to happen to your house, dealing with the insurance carriers,” said Tracy Dahlin, with Contractors Association of Minnesota.

Dahlin has been a contractor for almost 20 years.

She says there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you’re working with a reputable contractor.

“The first thing they should do is make sure that their contractor is licensed with the state of Minnesota,” Dahlin said. “The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has a website you can go in there and check.”

Dahlin says you should check how long the contractor has been in business and that they’re local.

If you do sign a contract, Dahlin says you still have three days to change your mind.

“If you’re not comfortable anymore, you can then cancel that contract and be OK,” Dahlin said.

There are things you can do before even discussing work with a contractor.

The Minnesota Commerce Department recommends taking photos or video of any property damage and notifying your insurance company as soon as possible to start the claims process.

“Sometimes you do have to be patient, but know that everyone is trying to get stuff done as soon as possible — especially with winter coming,” Dahlin said.

A new law in August prevents contractors from doing any work without the homeowner paying their deductible, so if any contractor offers a service agreeing to pay the deductible as incentive to sign a contract, they are violating state law.

Kate Raddatz