Michigan is cleaning up today from the impact of severe weather experienced on Thursday, leaving behind everything from damaged roofs and siding to downed trees. BBB Serving Western Michigan is warning that this is the time to look out for "storm chasers".
These scam artists present themselves as contractors able to fix or repair a homeowner's problems. Unlicensed and uninsured, they go town-to-town and door-to door taking money for work, underperforming or not performing at all, and then they move on to the next town, often times before the homeowners know they've been ripped-off.
Home and building owners will act quickly to clean up damage, but hastily hiring untrustworthy help can lead to even bigger problems. So remember these tips before hiring help after severe weather:
Don’t pay for the job in advance, and be wary of any contractor who demands full payment up front. Best practice is to pay for the work in installments over the course of the project so you can ensure that the work is being done well and on schedule.
Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the good deal that you'll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.
Get a written contract that specifies the price and work to be done and a time frame for it.
Get at least 3 written quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.
Ask for references, along with proof of the contractor’s registration and insurance.
Check with your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverages, what can and needs to be claimed, and how you'll be reimbursed for what you need repaired.
Victims of severe weather damage should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor; start with companies you can trust by going to BBB.org. To report fraudulent activity or untrustworthy business practices, report them to BBB's ScamTracker.