BBB Warning: Shady Contractors May Take Advantage of Wildfires

July 18, 2017


Vancouver, BC - It’s bad enough thousands of British Columbians have been forced from their homes by raging wildfires only to head back and find their property damaged, if not destroyed completely. Fire, smoke, and water damage could lead to thousands of dollars in restoration costs for many of those homes and businesses affected by this year’s devastating forest fire season.

According to BBB’s Risk Report, home improvement scams is the number one riskiest scam out there. That means it’s the scam we are most likely to be exposed to and then fall for.

“It’s a pretty simple ruse especially when many people in one community are in need and emotions are high,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “We all hope for the best in people in times of need but that’s when scammers get to work.”

The scam works in a couple of ways.

1. The contractor shows up, often unsolicited, convinces the homeowner to accept a low price and give a substantial deposit in cash. The contractor leaves with the cash and is never heard from again.

2. A vendor may overbill for a job on the assumption insurance will cover the cost. The job may be sub par and not meet building codes. Material may be damaged, used or stolen from another job site.


BBB offers these tips when looking for a restoration specialist:

Use well-known, local contractors. Ask around; who have friends used in the past? If they do not regularly work in your area, you might consider a different contractor. Check work vehicles for branding and make sure the license plate is the correct province.
Get several estimates. You may feel pressure to get your life back to normal, but it’s best to get at least 3 estimates on any big restoration job.
Get references. If a company can’t provide consumer references or simply won’t, consider another contractor.
Is the contractor licensed? Ask to see proof of licensing for your province or city and proof they are bonded and insured.
Review any contracts. Get everything in writing and ask to see their copy of the contract. Make sure the contract includes all charges, timelines, and materials used. All should be on company letterhead.
Make sure you know how much your home insurance will cover. Have your claims adjuster review any contracts as well and discuss exactly what damages are covered and which are not.
Avoid cash jobs. You may get an offer of an unbelievable deal if you pay in cash. BBB feels cash jobs are deceptive business practices and you lack any recourse such as a credit card charge back should something go wrong.
Check company rating at
If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Media Contacts:

Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor
BBB Serving Mainland BC
404-788 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2M1

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 365 million times for BBB Business Reviews, all available for free at BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 and serving the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon, is one of 108 local, independent BBBs across North America. In 2016, consumers turned to BBB Serving Mainland B.C. more than 2 million times for Business Reviews and processed 6,000 complaints