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Beware of Scams in Tornado Repair: Top 5 Tips for Homeowners

By Admin on March 07, 2012 5:03 AM

In the aftermath of recent tornado outbreaks, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a different kind of storm chaser: scam artists who take advantage of tornado victims.

"It is not uncommon for out-of-town storm chasers to solicit business after storms like the ones we had last week," said Carrie Hurt, CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "Storm chasers may not have proper licensure for your area, and may offer quick fixes or make big promises to which they won't deliver."

That warning echoes advice by emergency-management officials in states hit hard by tornadoes. "Unfortunately, some folks prey on people when they're weak," a spokeswoman for North Carolina's Division of Emergency Management told The Charlotte Observer.

To fend off tornado-repair scams, the BBB recommends the following tips for homeowners:

  • Many jurisdictions require a solicitation permit for contractors to make door-to-door pitches. You can verify a permit by calling your local municipality.
  • Make sure your contractor is properly licensed and registered.
  • Try to get at least three to four quotes from different contractors.
  • Get a written contract to specify price, a time frame, the exact work to be done, and the amount of liability insurance the contractor must maintain. And insist on paying a company, not an individual.
  • Do not pay in advance. Beware of contractors who demand full or half payment upfront, the BBB says.

And it's not just homeowners who are at risk for tornado-repair scams. Legitimate local contractors may also be approached by scammers who offer money to use a firm's name and phone number, so they can pretend to be a trusted local business, the BBB warns.

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