The aftermath of the recent storm has created problems for many metro area residents, and opened the door of opportunity for potential scam artists. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following tips for storm victims. Rick Brinkley, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Oklahoma, states that this is the “single greatest opportunity for scam artists to infiltrate eastern Oklahoma.”
Home Damage: If your home suffered damage as the result of the storm be sure to get several estimates before signing any contract for repairs. Be careful to read and understand the contract, and do not sign a completion form until you are completely satisfied with the job.
If a company offers a guarantee, make sure that it is in writing with a clear definition of what is covered. A guarantee is only as good as the firm that backs it.
Check your homeowner's policy for storm coverage. Be sure you understand what damages are covered by your insurance, and what charges, if any, will be your responsibility.
Never pay a contractor for the entire job in advance and avoid paying cash whenever possible. The BBB advises that you pay a third up front, a third in the middle and a third only when the work has been completed to your satisfaction.
Tree Damage: Trees and branches laden with ice from the storm may require trimming and/or removal. Before contracting with a tree trimming service, ask for an inspection and get a written estimate. Find out exactly how much the service will cost and make sure the amount quoted includes all labor, clean-up and disposal charges. Services that quote a price without a visual inspection cannot be sure of the scope of the work involved.
If possible, obtain at least two estimates for the work that needs to be done, and ask the company for referrals. If they hesitate or cannot supply any names, look elsewhere. Do not pay for work in advance and obtain a signed contract when possible.
Vehicle Damage: Hazardous road conditions can lead to accidents and vehicle damage. If your vehicle was in an accident or damaged by the storm, report this to your insurance company immediately. Be sure you know what your insurance covers and what your deductible or any other charges are before authorizing work. Expect your insurance adjuster, claims representative or repair facility appraiser to review the damage with you and explain the repair process, including use of original or generic auto parts. Be sure you are aware of any additional charges you will be expected to pay once the repairs are completed.
For more information on any company you are considering doing business with or tips on repairs for your home, property or auto, contact the BBB at www.tulsabbb.org or 918.492.1266.