THE BRONX - The city is warning homeowners affected by this week's storm to use caution when picking a contractor for rebuilding.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs launched an unlicensed contractor sting in July. The operation resulted in the seizure of more than 50 vehicles owned by unlicensed contractors, effectively putting them out of businesses.

Officials said hiring a licensed contractor can save consumers time and money. Consumer Affairs performs background and fingerprint checks on licensed contractors. Homeowners may be eligible for reimbursement from a city fund if anything goes wrong during a licensed contract job.

To find out whether a contractor is licensed, call the city's free information line at 311.

Consumer Affairs staff members will also be distributing information door-to-door in parts of Brooklyn affected by Wednesday's tornado in that borough.Related information:New York City Department of Consumer Affairs