Denial, anger, anxiety, shock, sadness, fear – a wide range of strong emotions surge through people as they look at their ruined property following a disaster. All of these people share one  need: to repair the damage quickly and return their lives back to normal as fast as possible. But how does it get fixed and who can you call to help? Disasters force crucial and far-reaching decisions when we aren’t thinking at our best. We’re so frantic and needing to salvage belongings that we often cling to the first offer of help.

As difficult as it may be, you must resist the impulse to act with haste. Take the time to choose a qualified company. Highly skilled and experienced companies maticulously manage a thorough restoration process. They care not only for your possessions, but for you and your family, minimizing your stress. Fly-by-night charlatans, howerver, target disaster victims frequently. They may come off as reassuring and convincing, but they tend to bilk victims of time and money while fixing little and disappearing quickly.

Thankfully, asking the right questions often exposes scam artists. In case of emergency, keep this list of questions handy. They will help lead you to the right company no matter your state of mind.

Is the company local? If you’re involved in a widespread disaster affecting a large area, beware of scam artists that travel long distances to make quick money. Also, be careful if somebody that you haven’t contacted approaches you to offer services.

Can the company provide you with good credentials? Ask the contractor to see their licenses, technician certifications, proof of insurance and bonds. Ask if their company meets industry standards such as the ANSI/IICRC Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration and the ANSI/IICRC Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation.

Will the company provide you with estimates and restoration plans? Reputable firms give complete, written estimates with line item costs and detailed restoration plans that discuss timeframes, equipment, product use and personnel. Beware of any company that provides estimates over the phone.

What are the payment terms? Beware of companies that require large down payments or offer discounts for signing contracts on the spot. Large down payments are tip-offs for unreliable scam companies that are more likely to disappear with the cash. Reputable companies, which estimate carefully and follow strict procedures, are unlikely to discount their services.

Can I reach you anytime? Reliable companies are available 24/7/365 with telephone support at any time night or day. The best restoration contractors proactively communicate often, are compassionate and want you to understand the work they are performing.