BBB warns storm victims of possible scammers
Those affected by natural disasters should beware of “storm chasers” and out-of-town contractors looking for business.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Better Business Bureau is issuing a warning about an uptick in scams following a tornado early Saturday morning in Fayetteville, Tennessee.
After a storm, unlicensed contractors take advantage of homeowners who face uncertainty, according to the BBB. The agency is warning those in areas affected by natural disasters to beware of “storm chasers” and out-of-town contractors looking for business. Although not all storm chasers are scammers, they may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes or make big promises they can’t deliver.
“As residents deal with damage to horse stalls and roofing, we want to equip them with information before hiring a contractor,” said Robyn Householder, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, in a news release. “We first suggest visiting BBB.org to find a local business that BBB has already vetted.”
BBB offers additional suggestions on four things every homeowner should do after a storm. First, contact your insurance company to ask about your policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Your insurance company may have a list of recommended contractors.
Next, resist high-pressure sales. Some storm chasers use tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot. Be proactive in selecting a contractor and not reactive to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches.
Also, be careful of door-to-door contractors. Many counties require a solicitation permit if salespeople go door-to-door. Ask for identification, and check their vehicles for a business name, phone number and license places for your state.
Downloading the FEMA app can also be helpful. The Federal Emergency Management app is your personalized disaster resource. It allows you to receive real-time weather alerts, send notifications to loved ones, locate emergency shelters in your area, and more. The app is available for iOS and Android users. Visit FEMA.gov for details.
Finally, don’t sign over insurance checks to contractors. Get an invoice from the contractor and pay them directly with a credit card. Paying with a credit card offers additional fraud protection over other forms of payment. Additionally, do not sign any documents that give the contractor any rights to your insurance claim. If you have questions, contact your insurance company or agent.
“We are always available to help and we will assist in any way we can,” Householder said in a news release.
To contact the Better Business Bureau, email email@example.com or call 615-242-4222.
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