Your home and
wallet may take a serious beating when a big storm like Hurricane Irene hits
and Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of fly-by-night
“storm chasers,” as well as fraudulent charities promising to provide relief.
and other door-to-door salespeople often peddle dubious deals that may cost
homeowners thousands of dollars and create serious headaches. BBB recommends
doing your research to avoid getting taken advantage of by untrustworthy home
For those who
seek to aid in relief, BBB Wise Give Alliance urges donors to check trustworthy
charities before making any donations. Not only do Americans need to be
concerned about avoiding fraud, they also need to make sure their money goes to
competent relief organizations that are equipped and experienced to handle the
unique challenges of providing assistance.
“Not only do
Americans need to be concerned about avoiding fraud, they need to know that
their home contractors and charity relief efforts are legitimate and
honorable,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business
Bureau of Central New England. “It’s imperative to find a home contractor and
charity that you can trust.”
for a contractor you can trust and when seeking to aid to relief efforts, BBB
recommends that homeowners and donors do the following:
Start Your Search with
BBB. In addition to offering Business Reviews on tens of
thousands of contractors—good and bad—across the US, you can also rely on BBB’s
Accredited Business Locator to find
trustworthy contractors in your area. BBB accreditation standards require that
accredited businesses make a good faith effort to resolve disputes.
the red flags.
Beware of any contractor who uses high pressure sales tactics or requires full
payment upfront. Also avoid contractors who require you to get the necessary
permits. When looking to make a donation, be cautious about online giving,
especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a
relief organization. In response to the previous natural disasters, there were
concerns raised about many Web sites and new organizations that were created
overnight allegedly to help victims.
the contractor carefully. Verify the business meets all state and
local requirements including being licensed, insured and bonded. Also ask the
business for references from recent jobs. Confirm whether or not the contractor
will be subcontracting the job or relying on their own employees.
of storm chasers. In the wake of a storm, fly-by-night repair businesses
will solicit work, often door-to-door, in unmarked trucks. They might require
advance payment and make big promises on which they won’t be able to deliver.
at least three bids. Beware of low-ball estimates that may potentially
balloon over time or foreshadow shoddy work to come.
sure everything is in writing. Make sure that the full scope of the work is
explained in the contract including cleanup and disposal of waste. All verbal
agreements need to be included in the written agreement. Pay close attention to
the payment terms, estimated price of materials and labor and any warranties or
advice on hiring home professionals and for finding a charity you can trust,
visit us online at www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-home
and BBB Wise Give Alliance at www.bbb.org/charity.