Possible damage from strong winds and storms may lead scammers to your neighborhood

Possible damage from strong winds and storms may lead scammers to your neighborhood

VICTORIA, Texas — As Tropical Storm Don moves toward the Texas coast, Better Business Bureau warns consumers of potential scams in the wake of storm damage.

The damage caused by a tropical storm can be quite extensive with wind speeds reaching 39-73 mph; and with high wind speeds comes the possibility of damage to your home. Whether it is a missing shingle, structural damage or a fallen tree, BBB urges consumers to be prepared for potential scammers looking to take advantage of those who have already been victimized.

Whether you’re in need of an immediate repair or not, BBB recommends the following tips to reduce the risk of hiring a contractor who is not trustworthy:

- Do your homework. Check with BBB before choosing any kind of contractor. Get referrals, compare several price quotes, which can be done using BBB’s Request A Quote and always confirm the contact information of the contractor you choose. Beware of red flags, including high pressure sales tactics, full upfront payment or low estimates that may potentially balloon over time or foreshadow shoddy work to come.

- Work closely with your insurance company on repairs. Make sure you understand how your homeowner’s insurance company will reimburse your repair costs. Before spending money, call your insurance company to make sure all necessary procedures are followed according to your policy. If you do not follow your insurance company’s guidelines, you may be stuck with the entire bill.

- Ask about warranties. Warranties and workmanship are only as good as the company that stands behind them. Trustworthy businesses will offer information about how they plan to handle any repairs covered under their warranty, particularly if they are coming in from another area.

- Get everything in writing. Make sure all work is explained in the contract, including cleanup, waste disposal and start and completion dates. Any verbal agreements that were made should be included in the contract. Pay close attention to the payment terms, estimated price of materials, labor and any guarantees. You should also get a copy of the contractor's insurance. Any changes to your contract should be done in the form of a change order.

- Beware of storm chasers. In the wake of a storm, unscrupulous businesses offering roof repair, lawn clean-up, or carpet cleaning services, may solicit work going door-to-door. A common sales tactic is to tell a homeowner that their insurance company will likely cover the cost of the needed repair. The homeowner is then required to sign a contract and make an advance payment. In many of these cases, BBB hears that the job is never completed and the insurance company does not cover the cost.

About Better Business Bureau:

BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.

Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.

Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748.

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