ST. CLOUD -- Parts of central Minnesota were pummeled by hail last week, and the Central Minnesota Homebuilders Association (CMBA) says this often results in phony contractors looking to prey on misfortune.

The CMBA says severe storms often lure "fly-by-night" contractors appearing in communities to further victimize homeowners by offering cheap and shoddy repair work.

For those dealing with hail damage and fielding calls or visits from contractors in recent days, the CMBA suggests watching for certain warning signs:

  • Being told a contract for service is not necessary
  • Being asked to pay for all work up front
  • Confrontational or pushy sales tactics
  • Being offered a "special, low price" for agreeing to the work immediately
  • Being asked to sign a waiver for a roof inspection, which could bind you into a contract
  • Refusal to provide credentials like a contractor's license or proof of insurance
  • Being asked to sign an estimate prior to hiring the contractor.

You're also encouraged to ask for references and check for the contractor's Minnesota Builders License number, required by all legitimate construction companies. Confirm the contractor represents a reputable company, and request a written estimate and work contract to review before you sign.

The CMBA is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Builders Association of Minnesota and the National Association of Homebuilders.