BBB Warns Residents: Watch for "Storm Chaser" Scams

  
     
Oklahoma has been hit with severe weather reaching the panhandle to the eastern border.
May 12, 2017

Residents are suffering from damage from hail, high winds, and flooding. Natural disasters can bring communities together, but they can also bring persons who choose to take advantage of the victims. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Oklahoma urges consumers to be aware of contractors who come into disaster areas to profit off those who need and want quick repairs. Storm chasing has become a multimillion-dollar industry, complete with computerized hail forecasting, teams of out of state installers and trained salespeople who go door-to-door soliciting work. If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform inferior work or use substandard materials. 

BBB offers these tips before hiring a contractor in the aftermath of a storm: 

  • Work with local businesses: Make sure the contractor has appropriate identification that tells you it’s a legitimate company versus a fly-by-night operator. Things like permanent lettering on trucks, uniforms, printed invoice and estimate sheets, business cards, physical addresses, land line phones, etc. are all signs of an established business.
  • Before dealing with a contractor, contact your insurance company about the damages to see if you are covered.
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics, such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire that contractor on the spot, or they have "left-over materials" from a job they are doing in the neighborhood. 
  • Deal with reputable contractors, and check out BBB’s Accredited Businesses at www.bbb.org/tulsa.
  • Don’t feel rushed to make a decision, only make a decision you feel good about.
  • When approached by a contractor, ask for proof of bonding and licensing if required.  In the state of Oklahoma Roofing Contractors are required to register with the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board.  To check click here.  Electrical, Mechanical, and Plumbing Contractors are required to have a license and you check with the Construction Industries Board as well, click here to check.
  • Get several quotes, and insist payments be made to the company, not an individual.  You can get a quote on BBB’s website.  Click Here to get started.
  • BBB encourages paying no more than one-third of the repair cost upfront.
  • Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done and a time frame for completion.
  • Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem. Say "No" to cash only deals. 

 Quick Links for Finding a BBB Accredited Contractor:

Fire & Water Damage Restoration

Tree Service

Roofing Contractors

General Contractors

Electricians

Windows

Gutters & Downspouts

Fence Contractors

Siding Contractors

Insurance Services

Garage Door Repair

For All Industries go to http://www.bbb.org/tulsa/accredited-business-directory

Individuals may contact the BBB at 918-492-1266 if you have any questions or visit our website at www.bbb.org/tulsa to find a business review on a company.