Published: Aug 24, 2012 4:28 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 24, 2012 5:46 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A warning tonight for homeowners: if you get any damage from Tropical Storm Isaac, be careful who you hire to fix it! After every storm unlicensed workers show up, take your cash and sometimes leave without doing the work, right.

If your house is damaged by a storm, most likely your insurance company will cut you a check to pay to fix it, but you'll be the one to hire a contractor. But before hiring anyone, make sure he or she is licensed by the state and is bonded and insured. That protects you and your money, if something goes wrong.

Unlicensed workers will not be able to obtain permits for the work they are doing and any work performed without a permit may not be covered by your insurance company in the event of future claims.

So, how do you know if someone is licensed?

First, check with the state. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, or DBPR, keeps track of all state licensed workers. Also, check with your county or city to see if the contractor is registered with them.

Other tips on picking a reputable contractor include:

--Always look for a contractor's permanent place of business, telephone number, tax ID number and business license.
--Check references
--Get multiple bids
--Get a contract in writing
--Never pay 100% up front
--Be wary of people asking for big down payments
--Request a city or county inspection before final payment
--Beware of those soliciting work door-to-door

To check whether someone has a license with the state, or to check on the status of their license, head to the Department of Florida Business and Profession Regulation by clicking here.

Always check with your city of county government on the status of licenses as well:



PHONE: (239) 533-8895


239-252-5607 (Licensing After Hours Complaint Line)