SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Crooks often flock to fire zones seeing dollar signs in victims who may soon get insurance checks and have money to rebuild.

Crews around the region are getting rid of hazards before letting people return to fire zones. Damage assessment teams are documenting the leveled homes to submit to the White House for a major disaster declaration.

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But once people return, they’ll be eager to get insurance involved.

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Illegal contractors often flock to fire victims with high-pressure tactics, claiming if you sign with them you can be among the first to rebuild. Don’t hire the first contractor who comes along. Check licenses on the Contractors State License Board website and never put down more than $1,000.

If they want more, it’s a sign something isn’t right.

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More tips from the Contractors State License Board:

  • Don’t pay cash, and don’t let the payments get ahead of the work.
  • Get three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
  • In a federal or state declared disaster area, consumers have the right to cancel a signed contract within seven (7) business days.
  • Contact the CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor.