Better Business Bureau warns residents of Storm Chaser fraud

Storm damage repairs can cost homeowners thousands of dollars. The Better Business Bureau wants people to be on the lookout for unreliable contractors wanting to take advantage of the situation.

Tom Bertholomy with the BBB said these scammers are called Storm Chasers. They drive for hours looking for storm victims and promise to repair roofs, fences and remove trees.

The BBB said people should hire a local contractor with a history of doing business in the area.

"One of the worst mistakes is to hire a storm chaser, a contractor who is working out of his pick-up truck, and going door-to-door soliciting business in storm-damaged areas," Bartholomy said.

BBB checklist 10 tips for hiring a home repair contractor:

1.                Track record - Check out a company's BBB rating and complaint history at www.bbb.org. It's fast, easy and free. You can also call the BBB at (704) 927-8611 or 1-877-317-7236, toll-free in N.C. and S.C. Customer service operators are available, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (excluding 12-1 p.m. for lunch).
2.                Cost comparisons - Get at least three bids in writing and be sure you compare the bids based on the same warranty, specifications, labor and time.
3.                Licensing - Check to see if the company you plan to hire has the proper licensing with your state's contractor's licensing board.
4.                Insurance - Verify the company's liability insurance to protect you against damage. You can also check with the department of insurance in your state.
5.                References - Ask for references from the company's last three jobs and check them out before you sign a contract.
6.                Written contract - Do not permit work to start without a signed, written contract that includes start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done, and warranty information. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
7.                Deposit required and payment - Do not pay more than 25 to 33 percent of the total job cost as a deposit. Final payment should not be due until the job is completed. Do not pay in cash; pay by check or credit card.
8.                Warranty - Get warranty information in writing on products and installation. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
9.                Bonding - Be sure all workers are bonded to protect you against theft or additional damage.
10.              BBB Accredited Business - Find a contractor you can trust at http://www.bbb.org/charlotte/accredited-business-directory.

For more information, visit the BBB’s website.

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