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Wicked Weather Watchers: Recognizing Storm Chasing Contracting Scams

Dealing with the aftermath of a large storm or other natural disaster is bad enough for homeowners. You have to find money for repairs or maybe even a new place to live and you have to deal with the stress it all brings. Unfortunately, there is another thing that you should be wary of: storm chasers knocking on your door in the aftermath.

There are people out there who run shady businesses that will make their way through town after a storm and offer their services for a fee: anything from quick yard cleanups to offering to build a new roof or porch. The problem is that they will either cut and run with the money or they will do a shoddy job for a lot of cash. Here are a few ways you can avoid falling victim to storm chasing scammers.


Don’t Accept Door to Door Offers


There you are, in the aftermath of the storm wondering what to do next, and a nice gentleman knocks on your door, offering to fix your problems. While this may be a real offer from a legitimate company, oftentimes, it’s a sure sign of a scam.

Storm chasers take advantage of homeowner’s fears of the future. They know that you are suddenly faced with unexpected repairs that could cost you a lot of money, so they show up just after the storm and offer their services. You may think it’s a godsend, but they are really there to try to bilk you out of your money because you may not be able to say no to a seemingly good deal.

If someone shows up at your door, you can talk to them and take a business card, but make sure that you do your research on the company or the contractor before agreeing to anything.


Be Present for Inspections


If you decide that you’d like to hear a little more, or if you find a contractor on your own, make sure that you are with them when they walk around your property to assess the damage.

Shady contractors and storm chasers have been known to create more damage than there is, using hammers and other objects. This allows them to charge you more than they need to. To avoid this, follow them closely as they inspect the damage. Point out major concerns to them and talk to them about their opinions on the damage.

Most contractors are good people who want to do right by you, but a little caution never hurts. This will help you steer clear of any scammers and you’ll be able to get your property fixed for the right price.


Make Them Give You the Price First


If you know how much money you have to spend — either from your own pocket or from your insurance — never tell the contractor that information beforehand. If they are scammers, you can be sure that the job will come in right around what you have to spend rather than a true number, no matter the project.

If they won’t give you a quote, you can always ask for an estimate. This way, you’ll know if they are a legitimate company or not. A good contractor will at least be able to give you a reasonable estimate, give or take 10% or so. Scammers, on the other hand, will probably avoid answering, waiting for you to slip up and tell them how much you can afford. So make sure that you never give away any financial information to a contractor until they give you a price and you agree to it.


Search for Yourself


With today’s technology, one of the quickest ways to check on a contractor’s intentions is to do an internet search for them.

If they are an established business with a good history, they will probably have a website with customer feedback on it. You can look through the reviews to see any testimonials, or you can use a service like Yelp! To see third-party reviews. If they don’t have any web presence, or if their reviews aren’t quite right, you should avoid making any agreements with them.

Then you can search for a contractor yourself. This may give you peace of mind because it’ll be you that found the company, not the other way around.

The next time you need repairs after a storm, remember these tips. For more information on home repairs and services, you can visit FredericRoofing.com.

Jay Richards has worked as a roofer ever since leaving school and becoming an apprentice. He shares some knowledge online to help innocent homeowners avoid some common scams.