Better Business Bureau warns Hoosiers to beware of scams following tornadoes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Nov. 20, 2013)–  The Better Business Bureau is warning local residents affected by the recent storms and tornadoes to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors soliciting business. A crisis of this magnitude brings out contractors who want to take advantage of those who have already been victimized.

The BBB warns that storm chasers may falsely create or sometimes even impersonate a local identity in order to appear to be a legitimate Indiana business.

“Unfortunately, illegitimate storm chasers follow natural disasters like this and prey on consumers wanting to have their homes repaired,” said Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana. “Be an informed consumer by checking to make certain a contractor has the proper licensure, and try to get three to four quotes. Don’t fall for offers to make quick fixes or big promises as storm chasers won’t deliver.”

Consumers affected by the recent storms are strongly urged to use the BBB’s free services and find local businesses by visiting indy.bbb.org.

The BBB offers the following tips for storm victims:

•              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.
•              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 marketing on it with the business name and phone number.
To check the reliability of a company, visit indy.bbb.org/Find-Business-Reviews/, and to find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org/indianapolis/accredited-business-directory/