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Don’t be left in the dark: BBB warns of scams after the storm

11/1/2011

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Power is still out across much of Massachusetts following the snowstorm last weekend. BBB warns consumers to take necessary safety precautions and to be aware of potential scams surrounding door-to-door contractors who claim to work for your electric company.

"After major weather related events, we hear numerous reports of folks being victimized again, not by Mother Nature, but rather at the hands of untrustworthy people who see this as a money-making opportunity," said Paula Fleming, BBB Spokesperson. “Some of the most common post-disaster scams involve home repairs, clean-up efforts, heating and cooling equipment and door-to-door contractors.”

BBB has recently been alerted to such a scam – an unscrupulous individual is going door-to-door in neighborhoods that report widespread power outages. This person claims to work with the electric company and offers to restore power to the home for a $200 fee. BBB warns home owners to be wary of anyone who comes to your door offering services. Be sure to always check their identification before letting them in to your home. When in doubt, call your power company directly with questions.

BBB offers the following advice for dealing with the aftermath of a storm:
  • Be suspicious of door-to-door workers, especially those who use scare tactics to get the job. Always ask for identification. Don’t be pushed into a decision you are uncomfortable with.

  • Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire. It should delineate the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Never pay for all repairs in advance, and don’t pay cash.

  • Always shop around for major repairs, and always get a Business Review from your BBB. If you have a problem with a business’s work, report it immediately to your Better Business Bureau, by telephone or through our website boston.bbb.org
  • References at least a year old should be requested. It may seem impossible to travel to an unaffected area to inspect references after a disaster, but remember the time spent will be minor in comparison to the possibility of living with inferior repair work for years.
  • Review all documents before signing a contract or making a payment.

For more information about the latest scams, visit bbb.org.

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