TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Once the snow melts -- and possibly before -- you might find that Mother Nature was a little rough on your home and repair work needs to be completed. Before settling on a service contract, make sure it’s with a reputable company.

Fraudulent people will find any number of ways to take advantage of you, even after Mother Nature already has rained on your parade. The Better Business Bureau offers several tips to prevent being duped when seeking home repairs.

“Natural disasters … can bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need,” reads information from the BBB. “Unfortunately, emergencies also bring out those who choose to take advantage of victims. Some of the most common ‘after-disaster’ scams involve your auto, home and yard repairs or clean-up.”

According to the bureau, if you've suffered property damage in the wake of a natural disaster, you should:

Know your coverage. Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.

Stay calm. 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 pro-active in selecting a business and not re-active to sales solicitations. Make temporary repairs if necessary.

Shop around. For major repairs, take time to research and get three to four estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references that are at least one-year-old and ask about insurance and business licenses.

Be wary of door-to-door workers. Oftentimes they claim to have left-over materials from a job “down the street” or claim they do not have a permanent place of business. If sales people go door-to-door, check to see if your community requires them to have solicitation permits.

Get it in writing. Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. It should specify the work to be done, the materials to be used and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including warranties on materials or labor. Be sure their name, address and license number, if applicable, and phone number along with a start and end date for the work, are included in the contract. Don’t sign a blank contract. A copy of the signed contract is to be given to you at time of signature.

Be cautious with money. Never pay in full for all repairs in advance, and do not pay cash! While many businesses may ask for a deposit, BBB suggests that no more than one-third of the job be paid up front. Be sure the contract specifies the schedule for releasing payments to the contractor.

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