Harsh storms are a prime event for home improvement and repair scams. Better Business Bureau advises consumers to avoid becoming a victim by taking these important precautions before having home repairs done.
Relentless storms have moved through the Mid-South area, toppling trees, downing power lines and causing damage to roofs, homes, cars and fences. Homeowners with damage to their property, anxious to get things back to normal, can often fall prey to less-than-ethical contractors looking to take advantage of those needing help cleaning up and repairing storm damage. BBB is warning homeowners be on the lookout for scams involving clean-up efforts, tree or limb removal, and fence, roof, and home repairs.
“Legitimate businesses are often inundated with repair requests after such storms,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB of the Mid-South president. “Homeowners should be wary of folks who knock on their doors offering to do work,” Hutchinson added. “These door-to-door solicitors may not be properly licensed and may not be around to respond to calls from customers whose repairs weren’t adequate.”
Hutchinson urges consumers to check out a company before hiring them to do work. “Use your smartphone to check out someone who shows up unbidden at your door while they are standing on your front porch by going to bbb.org,” he said. “And remember, just because someone shows up with a chainsaw doesn’t make them a reputable tree service company.”
BBB Tips for Dealing with Storm Damage:
- Be wary of door-to-door workers who show up unsolicited offering to make repairs. This includes companies offering to remove fallen trees and branches. Find out if they are a local company who will still be around if you need to call them back out after repairs are completed.
- Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Keep copies of receipts for emergency repairs for reimbursement later.
- Avoid acting in haste. Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, don't be pressured into signing a long-term contract. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
- Take time to shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, and check out the contractor with the BBB at bbb.org or by calling 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754.
- The BBB can provide you a list of BBB Accredited Businesses to choose from, including roofers, tree removal companies, fence companies and other home repair businesses.
- Get everything in writing. Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire that outlines the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Make sure the contract includes the company’s name, phone number and physical address.
- Never pay the full amount of repairs in advance. 30% is a standard down payment. Pay with a credit card if possible, which offers you more protection if the work is not completed as specified.
- File a complaint with BBB if you have a problem with any company that you can’t get resolved.