Don't Hastily Hire Help after Severe Weather Hits

May 18, 2017

Spring has arrived and it’s time to prepare for the severe weather that often accompanies the change of season.  Many may have heard the tornado sirens blaring yesterday as part of Iowa’s annual preparedness effort.  Better Business Bureau wants you to be prepared in the wake of severe weather as well.  It’s after the storm that a person can be vulnerable to scammers. This is the time to look out for unscrupulous "storm chasers".

These scam artists present themselves as contractors able to fix a homeowner's problems, traveling from town-to-town, door-to door, taking money for work. Often their work is started but left unfinished, if started at all. Moving to the next town before homeowners know they've been ripped-off.

It is natural for home and building owners to act quickly to clean up damage, but hastily hiring untrustworthy help can lead to even bigger problems.

Consider these BBB tips before hiring help to repair storm damage:

  • Get at least 3 written quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual. Use's FREE Request a Quote service to find and hire reputable contractors in your immediate area.
  • Ask for references, along with proof of the contractor's registration and insurance.
  • Do not pay for the job in advance, and be wary of any contractor who demands full payment up front. Typically, a down payment of one-third the total contract price is made with additional payments due after completion of each phase of work. Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there's a problem. Never pay in cash and always get a receipt.
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the "good deal" you'll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.
  • Get a written contract that specifies the price and the work to be done and a time frame. Be sure that all promises made are put in writing.


Prices are often highest in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Buy only the services that are necessary to make your home safe and habitable. Coordinate with your insurance company as needed. And if you can wait, contractor rates will likely drop a few days after the storm.

Encounter a scam? Report it via BBB's Scam Tracker.

Need to check a business' credibility? Check BBB's Business Directory.