BBB Warns Consumers to Beware of Storm Scammers

The storm that battered parts of Yates County, this week, is an invitation to fly-by-night operators, who prey on unsuspecting consumers that sustained property damage from the high winds and flooding. 

Peggy Penders of the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York says beware of scam artists posing as honest contractors:  

Penders advises homeowners to make sure they get everything in writing and, if possible, hire a local contractor who will be around if something goes wrong, later on. 

Penders says the BBB receives a large number of consumer complaints dealing with issues relating to general contracting and that the number usually spikes right after a storm or a natural disaster.

The BBB urges homeowners with storm damaged property to follow these tips to avoid getting scammed:

1.  Check with your insurance agent to determine your policy coverage and specific filing requirements.
2.  Keep calm.  Don't get pressured into making an immediate decision that could have long-term consequences.
3.  Ask family and friends for references. Contact for a Business Review.  On major projects:  Get three competitive bids and references.
4.  Stay clear of door-to-door solicitations and offers.  A typical scam is to scare the homeowner into thinking their home is unsafe.  
5.  Beware of contractors who cannot provide proof of liability and worker's comp insurance.
6.  Always get the contract in writing specifying what's to be done; materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials.
7.  DO NOT PAY FOR REPAIRS IN ADVANCE.  DO NOT PAY WITH CASH OR CHECK.  Credit cards offer the most protection if something should go wrong.
8.  BE HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS OF REQUESTS FOR CASH.  If a contractor asks for payment upfront, find another contractor.  Pay first jobs, many times, never get done.  

Storm victims should never feel forced into making a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor.  Contact the Better Business Bureau at 1-800-828-5000.  

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