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The Better Business Bureau warns of 'storm chasers' scamming tornado victims

Posted at 11:42 AM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 12:42:39-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Better Business Bureau is encouraging tornado victims to beware 'storm chasers' who may be trying to scam them.

Storm chasers are individuals who follow severe weather hoping to get business from storm victims whose homes have been damaged. The BBB says that while not all storm chasers are scammers, it is important that homeowners really know who they are dealing with before they agree to hire a business for any number of jobs.

"It’s common for out-of-town storm chasers to solicit business from people whose homes have been damaged by storms like the ones we witnessed this week across our area,” said Robyn Householder, President/CEO, BBB serving Middle TN and Southern KY. “Be sure to do your research before hiring someone you don’t know. Storm chasers may not have proper licensure for your area and may offer quick fixes or make big promises to which they won’t deliver.”

In addition to doing your research before hiring anyone, the BBB has also provided the following tips:

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

Be careful when you need work on your home in 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.

Don't give in to 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.

Always get a written contract. Make sure that it specifies the price, the work to be done, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor, and a time frame. Require a copy of their current certificate of insurance.

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.

In addition, you can also always find businesses you can trust on BBB.org