Keeping you safe: BBB gives tips to prevent storm scams

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - As recovery efforts continue following an EF-3 tornado, you may be looking for contractors to repair any damages.

The Better Business Bureau wants people to be wary of contractors as they repair storm damage. | Source: KALB

The Better Business Bureau says following severe weather, home improvement scams increase.

They call them "Storm Chasers." It can start with a knock on the door, a flyer, an ad.

"Just be very careful who you do business with. Check them out," Andrew Fisher, President of the Better Business Bureau said.

Fisher says anytime someone comes to your door inquiring about doing any type of construction work, do your research.

"The BBB will have on that company to let you know if they're licensed," he said. They also have data on the businesses' standing and if they have any complaints.

He says they may be legit contractors but always exercise caution.

The BBB has six recommendations for consumers to protect themselves from scams after a Natural Disaster.

• Contact your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy. Your insurance company may also have recommended contractors.

• Do your research. Find businesses you can trust on BBB.org. We have BBB Business Profiles on more than a million home contractors. Check your state or provincial government agency responsible for registering and/or licensing contractors. Get references from friends and relatives.

• Resist high-pressure sales. Some storm chasers use tactics such as the "good deal" you'll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot. Be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not re-active to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches. Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor.

• Be especially careful of door-to-door contractors. Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if salespeople go door-to-door. Ask for identification. Check their vehicle for a business name, phone number, and license plates for your state or province.

• Don't sign over insurance checks to contractors. Get an invoice from the contractor and pay them directly (preferably with a credit card, which offers additional fraud protection over other forms of payment). Don't sign any documents that give the contractor any rights to your insurance claims. If you have questions, contact your insurance company or agent.

• Be wary regarding places you can't see. While most contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof and other areas of your house. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work. The same goes for attics, crawl spaces, ducts, and other places you cannot easily access or see for yourself.

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