The Better Business Bureau offered a strong warning and advice on how to avoid getting scammed in the aftermath of storms that left damage in and around the Quad Cities.
Storm damage is stressful enough. Some unscrupulous contractors, eager to take advantage of people in a desperate situation, could do much more harm than good.
The day before storms struck our area, the Better Business Bureau reported receiving “numerous calls” from out-of-state contractors requesting accreditation from the BBB.
“The BBB warns that some storm chasers may falsely create or hijack a local identity in order to appear to be a local business,” said a spokesman for the Better Business Bureau of Iowa and the Quad Cities. “Our accredited businesses must meet and maintain our high standards in order to don the accredited business seal.”
The BBB’s Accredited Business Directory is available online at http://www.bbb.org/iowa. The BBB also offers a “Request-A-Quote” service, through which you can submit a request and a reputable contractor can contact you directly.
The BBB offers the following tips for hiring a reputable contractor:
- When approached by a contractor, ask for proof of licensing and bonding.
- Get several quotes and insist 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.
- Do not hire people who show up at your door offering services such as tree or debris removal and roof repair.
- Resist high-pressure sales tactics, such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.
- Check out the company first with the BBB, and deal only with reputable contractors.
- Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done and a time frame.
- Prices are often high in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Be careful of price gouging.
- If possible, pay with a major credit card as you may have additional protection if a serious problem arises.
- Check that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or marking on it with the business name and phone number.