BBB Advice After Storms: Watch Out For Charity Scams, Contractor Ripoffs

The BBB is warning victims of last night's storm to be on the lookout for potential charity scams or contractor ripoffs.

The strong storms that swept across the Midwest last night left many homeowners with downed trees, damaged roofs and in some cases, demolished homes.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is alerting the public to the potential for scammers to defraud consumers with solicitations for fake charities as well as the potential for storm-chasing contractors to sign up consumers for storm cleanup that they may never complete. The BBB is still dealing with complaints about contractors from last year's April storms.

We urge consumers to look up charities or contractors on the BBB website before making donations or signing contracts. BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and more than 11,000 charity reviews are available on our website or by calling 314-645-3300.

A BBB video on how to hire a contractor is available at: http://youtu.be/PBn5M8_RkP0

Some BBB tips for hiring a trustworthy contractor include:

  1. Ask at least three companies for bids based on the same requirements. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best.
  2. Ask about the company’s insurance. Does it carry worker’s compensation, property damage and liability insurance? Ask for proof of insurance or for the name of an insurance agent you can call to verify the coverage.
  3. Ask whether the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need. Does the firm meet the bonding requirements of your town, county or state.?
  4. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed. The contractor should be aware of any permits or inspections that may be required.
  5. Ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver when the job is completed. A lien waiver is a statement that all suppliers and contractors have been paid for materials and labor. 
  6. Ask for a contract and read it. Get any verbal promises in writing. Make sure the contract includes the start date and expected completion date.
  7. Don’t pay the entire amount due until the work is completed and you are satisfied. Be careful if a contractor wants to be paid in full up front. In some cases, a contractor may need a down payment to cover materials. But the bulk of the money should not be due until the work is complete.
  8. Always check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.

For more BBB news, go to the BBB website or follow the BBB on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.


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