The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Louisville, southern Indiana and western Kentucky is warning the western Kentucky community of “storm-chasing scammers” who might try to take advantage of a terrible situation.
“Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the deadly tornadoes,” said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, BBB President and CEO. “ It’s just a matter of time now that scammers will prey on victims.” Smith-Hamblin also said scam artists come out of the woodwork during a victim’s most vulnerable times. “BBB is here to help guide you through these difficult times so you don’t get scammed.”
• Know your rights and responsibilities as provided by the state Attorney General. Kentucky residents can contact the Kentucky Attorney General’s office by clicking here or call 502-696-5300.
• Businesses must be licensed. Contact the Revenue Commission at 502-574-4860 to check out a company’s licensure.
• 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 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.
• 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.
• 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. 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.
The BBB is not just trying to protect tornado survivors, but also local contractors who might get dragged into a scam. The BBB is warning of storm chasers who will offer to pay to use a local contractors name, reputation and phone so they can pretend to be a local business.
According to the BBB, contractors who participate in this scam usually regret their decision. They can often be left “holding the bag” of unsatisfied customers due to bad workmanship and/or unfulfilled warranties.