The Better Business Bureau serving Louisville, Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky has sent out a warning for storm-chasing scammers, following the wake of deadly tornadoes and storms that struck Kentucky and other states Friday night.
While many Kentuckians have opened their hearts and stepped up to donate funds, necessities and services to those devastated by the storms, there is an increased potential of out-of-town storm chasers looking to take advantage of victims as they begin the long process of cleaning up and rebuilding.
BBB offers the following tips for tornado and storm victims:
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Know your rights and responsibilities as 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.
• 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 sales people 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.
BBB is also 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.
Many contractors in the past 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.