Recent Storms Bring Out Tree Service Scammers

A Cut Rate Price and Upfront Payment – You May Never See That Contractor Again
May 03, 2017

Central Indiana has been hit recently with hail, high winds, and storms causing downed trees.  This always brings out unscrupulous tree contractors that scam consumers.  The typical scenario involves a person approaching your home out of the blue offering to perform work on your downed trees for a cut-rate price - if you pay upfront.  The contractor collects the money and leaves - never to return and perform the work.  BBB receives calls and complaints about these storm chasers following major weather events.  Refer to these tips if you are in need of tree services for your home or business.

Tips for Hiring Tree Services:

Ask For Recommendations.  Contact friends, family members, and neighbors for recommendations of reputable rental companies in your area.  Visit for a listing of accredited service tree companies, to read BBB Business Reviews and Customer Reviews from previous customers.  Make sure the business does not have any unanswered/unresolved complaints.

Do Your Research.  Find out if the business belongs to an organization such as the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) or International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Use these websites for suggestions on how to proceed with your tree needs.  Be sure to ask how long the business has been in the tree service industry and what are their specialties.

Get at Least Three Estimates.  Be sure to give three different businesses identical details for the job to receive the most accurate estimates. This should give you an idea of the average price for the job. Do not automatically choose the lowest bid. It may be inexpensive because the business is not experienced or they have not obtained the proper certifications. If possible, meet with the business in person and take note of their professionalism and how they respond to your questions and concerns. Make sure each business you meet with has the proper liability and workers compensation insurance and you are able to see proof from the insurance agency.

Ask for References.  Ask the business to provide a list of references you may contact. Ask the references about the job that was performed and their experience with the tree service business. Ask if they were satisfied and if the business stuck to the estimated price.  See if the company has a website or a portfolio that shows before and after pictures.

Beware of Door-to-Door Solicitations.  Be cautious of tree services that solicit their business door-to-door. If there is a tree service business seeking jobs door-to-door, it is usually a scam. Tree work is not a decision you should make on the spot unless there is an emergency or natural disaster. In this case, it’s still important to beware of scams and make sure the business you hire has obtained the necessary insurance and certifications.

Get Everything in Writing.  Be sure to have a formal agreement for the job in writing. Make sure the agreement includes: the business’s information, project details, estimated start and completion date, and the price. The contract should also be clear as to how the clean-up will be handled (hauling away of debris, repair of the area for stump removal, etc).  Tree services usually don’t require payment upfront. Only pay the business in full once the job is completely done.

For more information, please contact BBB at or 1-866-463-9222.

About BBB® Serving Central Indiana

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Central Indiana was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties in Central Indiana.