BBB Tips for the Upcoming Threat of Winter Weather
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – December 5, 2013: The damage caused by natural disasters such as winter storms can often bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also brings out persons who take advantage of those who have already been victimized. Some of the most common "after-disasters" scams involve home repairs, clean-up efforts, heating and cooling equipment, and damaged property. The people who perpetrate these scams are called ’Storm Chasers‘.
As the name implies, Storm Chasers show up in the aftermath of a disaster or storm, appearing to have the perfect solution to the consumers storm related issues. They often contact consumers without the consumer personally contacting them with a, "I just happen to be in your neighborhood" story. They offer too good to be true prices with a warranty that would seem to cover everything. They will "take care of everything". All you have to do is sign here. That is when the pain begins. It may not be immediate, but it will come.
The one thing that always stands out, that a consumer fails to realize, is where will the company be if there are problems with the work that was done? What happens if another storm comes and you have the same problem? How can you contact them? How are they going to help the consumer if they are out of state chasing another storm?
The Better Business Bureau can help you find reputable, well established companies that are in your area and WILL BE in your area when you need them in the future. The BBB requests business information from companies in order to evaluate them and provide vetted, accurate information to the public. This process allows us to confidently direct consumers to businesses they can TRUST for the services they are requesting.
The Better Business Bureau has the following advice for consumers in the aftermath of a disaster or storm:
- Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements the company may have.
- Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don’t be pressured into signing contracts. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
- For major permanent repairs, take time to shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, check out references, and get a report from the BBB.
- Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect, or county official inspect it.
- Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire. It should delineate the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Never pay for all repairs in advance, and don't pay cash.
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You can find information on companies you can TRUST anytime at www.arkansas.bbb.org