Wisconsin officials warn of predatory contractors

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin consumer protection officials are warning victims of recent flooding to be wary of predatory contractors.

Lara Sutherlin is a division administrator for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. She tells Wisconsin Public Radio that transient contractors look to take advantage of homeowners affected by flooding or other natural disasters.

Sutherlin says predatory contractors, often called "storm chasers," offer to conduct repair work faster and at a lower cost, but will use low-grade material or leave before completing the job. She says scammers often prey on the most vulnerable residents, such as the elderly.

Lisa Schiller is the investigations director for the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin. She says homeowners should call their insurance agency and take photos of storm damage before seeking local contractors.