The storm last night brought hail and wind through Nebraska and caused significant damage to property in many places. Today, “travelers” (out of town contractors) are showing up in the neighborhoods most affected warns Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa. “Some of these contractors will prey on people whose homes, businesses and vehicles were damaged. They promise quick repairs, collect a fee and then, fail to deliver,” stated BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty.
Many of these traveling storm repair firms began setting up shop in our area two weeks ago after severe storms hit the metro. These “travelers” operate out of extended stay hotels or have established virtual offices to create the illusion of being local. They may complete the job as described. But sometimes poor craftsmanship and materials mean that problems will develop at a later date, when the business has moved on to a new storm-damaged region. In the worst-case scenario, the contractor simply takes your payment, completes little-to-none of the work, and takes off.
Although not all “travelers” are problematic, some may lack the proper licensing and make promises they can’t keep. Legitimate firms that travel the country following storm damage will always be transparent about the nature of their business and the fact they are not a local company. “Disaster survivors should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to hire an unknown contractor who comes to your door offering a quick fix,” explained Hegarty.
In an effort to combat these traveling contractors, BBB’s Foundation, in cooperation with the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) has developed a printed hand-out to help survivors of disasters without the fear of being scammed. Now, people can begin a safer recovery by using this booklet called “ReBUILD with TRUST.” It provides useful information about how to hire contractors, how to manage insurance claims and disputes and how to check on charitable organizations before accepting aid or making donations. The booklet also specifies the qualities of trustworthy businesses by providing BBB’s Standards for Trust. These Standards summarize the important elements of a good business.
Recuperation from any disaster, large or small, is difficult and is usually a gradual process. It takes time and many resources to make the repairs properly. Each VOAD in our region has copies that will be given out along with the other aid VOAD members provide. “ReBUILD with TRUST” is also on BBB’s website at bbbinc.org, and it can be accessed on mobile devices, laptops and tablets. If you would like a printed copy of the booklet, contact BBB at 800-649-6814. It can be used anytime, anywhere for a safer recovery!
Tips for Protection from Traveling Repair Firms:
ABOUT BBB: Better Business Bureau has been assisting U.S consumers and businesses since 1912. It is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing trust in the marketplace. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. Today, BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is supported by approximately 10,000 Accredited Businesses that have voluntarily committed to adhere to BBB’s Standards of Trust.