As evacuees return to their homes and begin to assess the damage after a wildfire, flood, or other disaster, one of the biggest questions on their minds might be how to rebuild. Although there is usually an outpouring of support and generosity from the public after a tragedy, unethical businesses may also emerge to try to take advantage of those recovering.It’s important for those with damaged homes or property to do their research when hiring a business. In 2016, consumers nationwide filed more than 6,000 combined complaints against both remodel/repair contractors and general contractors with BBB. Complaints frequently involved workers doing a shoddy job and consumers having trouble getting their problems resolved.The following BBB tips will help victims rebuild and recover:o Watch out for storm chasers and home improvement scams. According to the BBB Risk Index, home improvement scams are the most risky scam to consumers. In 2016, 53% of scam victims reported losing money, and the median loss was $1,425. Unfortunately, consumers in disaster zones may see a surge in “storm chasers” looking to make money off of their misfortune. Consider it a red flag if: a worker shows up on your doorstep unannounced without identification; someone offers a “too good to be true” deal or uses high-pressure sales tactics; a worker claims they just finished a job down the street and have left-over materials; the contractor doesn’t have a permanent place of business; the worker claims to be FEMA-certified; or if anyone asks for personal information like bank account or Social Security numbers. Visit bbb.org/homescam to learn more.o Check with your insurance. As soon as you can, call your insurance provider and ask about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Take pictures of the damage, and make sure to save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.o Take your time. Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Be proactive in selecting a business and not reactive to sales solicitations. Make temporary repairs if necessary. Don't rush into decisions and don't automatically hire the first contractor who comes along. o Make sure they’re licensed. According to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), “it is a felony to contract without a license in a declared disaster area”. You can easily verify licenses at www.cslb.ca.gov. To become licensed, “a contractor must pass two licensing exams, verify at least four years of journey-level experience, carry a license bond, and pass a criminal background check” (CSLB). CSLB licenses contractors in 43 different classifications, so verify that the contractor holds a license for the work you are having done. Ask for proof of insurance as well.o Other tips for hiring a contractor. Never pay full price in advance and don’t be pressured to pay cash, and establish a payment schedule. CSLB advises that you pay no more than ten percent down or $1,000 – whichever is less. Don’t let the payments get ahead of the work, and don’t make a final payment until you are satisfied with the completed work. For more tips, visit go.bbb.org/generalcontractors.o What to do if you have a problem. If you’re having issues with your contractor and, despite your efforts, they can’t be fixed, you have resources. File a complaint with your BBB at bbb.org/complain. It’s also wise to file a complaint with CSLB. To report home improvement scams, or any other type of scam, visit BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.