Better Business Bureau warns to be wary of storm cleanup, repair scam artists

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(Photo supplied/Indiana News Service)
After a line of storms in the area overnight, and another round expected for parts of Michigan tonight, the Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be cautious when hiring others to assist with repair and cleanup from damages.
They say to be wary of anyone going door-to-door offering storm cleanup assistance. 
Unlicensed persons often canvas neighborhoods after a storm offering to repair damaged property with deals that seem too good to be true. They may use high-pressure sales tactics, such as “this deal is good today only” or scare tactics, like “it needs to be done right away because it is dangerous”. Many times, the money is paid without the work being completed.
 BBB offers the following tips before hiring any contractor:
  • Research the business. Visit BBB.org to research the company before you make a decision. Make sure any company you hire has working contact information; such as a local address and phone number.
  • Only hire licensed and insured contractors. Verify the contractor has a valid license to do the work. While most tree companies do not require state licensing, roofers and other repair companies likely do need to be licensed. You can check on builders licensing with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Remember, BBB checks every year to make sure all BBB Accredited Businesses have the necessary licenses. 
  • Get multiple bids and seek referrals. Ask at least three companies for bids. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best. A contractor should be able to give you reference names and phone numbers of at least three clients with projects like yours.
  • Get a written contract and read it. Make sure any verbal promises are included, as well as; the agreed upon price, specific work to be done and the start date and expected completion date. Obtain a signed copy of the final contract before work is started.
  • Never pay the full amount up front. Be wary of any contractor who demands full payment upfront. Contractors may require a down payment to cover materials, but full payment should not be due until the work is complete and you are satisfied. Pay by credit card, if possible, never with cash. When paying by check, make payments to the company, not an individual.  
BBB also offers these additional resources:
     Find a reputable contractor near you at bbb.org
     Report scams to BBB.org/ScamTracker.
     Read BBB’s Tips on hiring a contractor.
     Read about how to avoid storm chasers.

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