The recent damage done by floods brings out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also brings out contractors who take advantage of those who have already been victimized.
As a follow up, your local Better Business Bureau is warning local residents affected by the recent flooding to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors soliciting business.
Your BBB offers the following tips for flood victims:
Know your rights and responsibilities with information provided by the state Attorney General. Kentucky residents can contact the Kentucky Attorney General’s office at ag.ky.gov or call 502.696.5300. Indiana residents can contact the Indiana Attorney General’s office at in.gov/attorneygeneral or 317.232.6201.
Businesses must be licensed. Contact the Louisville Metro Revenue Commission at 502.574.4860 to check out a company’s licensure.
Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if sales people go door-to-door. Verify that they need to have a permit by contacting your local Municipality or call Permits & Licensing at 502.574.3321
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.
For general questions or complaints related to insurance, contact your state’s Department of Insurance. Kentucky residents can visit insurance.ky.gov or call 502.564.3630. Indiana residents can visit in.gov/idoi or call 1.800.622.4461.
Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.
If you suspect a company may be price gouging necessary goods or services due to this disaster, report the business to BBB and the Attorney General’s office.
Beware of FEMA imposters. In the past, scammers impersonate FEMA to try to scam consumers. Remember that FEMA does not charge for inspections and they always wear ID badges. If you are still unsure, check with FEMA first at fema.gov or call 202.646.2500.
If you are looking to donate to a charity, be sure to check out the charity first at give.org and other charity evaluators like Charity Navigator or Guidestar.
BBB is warning 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.
BBB has 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 Profiles you can trust on local businesses, visit bbb.org or call 1.800.388.2222.