BBB Tip: Protect Yourself from “Storm Chasers”

Press release from BBB

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Georgia experienced some wild weather last night. If you had storm damage, you’ll want to be cautious of “storm chasers” who might pop up and offer help.

If you are considering hiring a door-to-door contractor who is soliciting after a storm, think twice if the offer sounds too good to be true, if full payment is required in advance for a job over $5,000 and if you are asked to sign a contract allowing the contractor to negotiate with your homeowners insurance on your behalf. If this is done, your entire insurance check could go to the contractor, regardless of the quality or quantity of work completed.

Find a trustworthy contractor to repair storm damage by following tips from your BBB:

  • Check with your insurance company. Ask about policy coverage and how to file a claim as soon as possible. Make temporary repairs that may be necessary and keep receipts.
  • Confirm a company is legitimate. To check out a business with BBB, visit bbb.org for basic company information and complaint history. If a license is needed, be sure to check with Georgia’s Secretary of State Office to ensure the company has the proper license and is current.
  • Obtain 3-4 quotes. A storm chaser will try to pressure you into making an immediate decision. Don’t fall for it. In addition, ask for references from past customers and make sure these references are at least a year old.
  • Get everything in writing. The contract should include a written description of the work and the price of labor and materials. Confirm the contract includes the company’s name, address and contact information and the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling Off Rule is listed.
  • Don’t make final payment until the work is done. Beware of promises to return and take care of final details. It may be difficult to get the company to return once the job is paid in full. Request a receipt marked “paid in full” once final payment is made.

BBB is also warning contractors to beware of storm chasers who may offer to pay substantial amounts of money to use your business’s established name, reputation and local contact information. They masquerade as a local business, collect the insurance money and move on, leaving the real business to deal with unsatisfied customers due to bad workmanship, unfinished work or unfulfilled warranties.

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