Better Business Bureau warns the public, contractors to beware of storm chasers

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The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning local residents affected by the recent storms to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors soliciting business.

“It is not uncommon for out-of-town storm chasers to solicit business after storms like the ones we had last week,” said Brian Catania, CEO of the Better Business Bureau. “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.”

The BBB offers the following tips for storm victims:

  • Know your rights and responsibilities provided such as Emergency Price Controls and Price Gouging.
  • Contractors must be registered with Georgia’s Secretary of State’s Office.
  • Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if salespeople go door-to-door.  Verify that they need to have a permit by contacting your local Township or Municipality. BBB suggests consumers be proactive in selecting a contractor and not reactive to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches.
  • While most roofing contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work.
  • Try to get at least 3-4 quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.
  • Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment upfront.
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.
  • Get a written contract that 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.
  • Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.
  • Check that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name, phone number and license plates for your state.

In the next couple of days, out-of-state contractors will set up shop in the area trying to capture construction work caused by the storm. BBB is warning the area contractors to beware of storm chasers who are willing to pay local construction companies substantial amounts of money to use a local business’s established name, reputation and phone so they can masquerade as a local business.

We have seen this happen in other areas of the country. After doing repairs paid by insurance companies, the out-of-state contractors left the area. Many contractors who agreed to let these storm chasers use their name regret their decision once they were left holding the bag of unsatisfied customers due to bad workmanship and/or unfulfilled warranties.

Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor. Start With Trust. For reliable information, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and BBB Business Reviews you can trust on local businesses, visit bbb.org or call (404) 766-0875.

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