The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is warning homeowners to do their homework before hiring a contractor to repair storm damage, according to a statement Monday.

While many contractors are "reputable and licensed," said Ken Peterson, DLI commissioner, "after most storms unscrupulous operators try to take advantage of storm victims."

The department has this advice:

If a contractor offers to pay your insurance deductible, don't agree to it. It's against state law for contractors to do so or to offer any other compensation in order to get hired.

Don't sign an "authorization form" to allow a contractor to contact your insurance company. Once signed, the document is a contract that gives the contractor permission to do any repair work your insurance company will cover and at a price the contractor and insurance company agree to.

Check to make sure the contractor is licensed. Ask for the contractor's license number and then call 651-284-5069 or check the license number online.

Check with the Better Business Bureau for any history of complaints.

Check state court records for any criminal convictions or civil lawsuits or judgments against individuals offering their services.

Beware of door-to-door sales, high-pressure sales, unusually low prices, requests for payment up front and a failure to provide a detailed written estimate or contract.