The San Angelo Police Department wants citizens to watch out for unreliable contractors and independent handypersons who may try to “clean up” by making a quick buck off victims of Friday’s storm.
The Department has already received reports of scammers, mostly independent handypersons who are offering cleanup and repair services at inflated rates. Other organizations and contractors, often referred to as “storm chasers”, will soon be traveling to Tom Green preying on that damage. These door-to-door scammers are a real threat; they rip-off consumers with promises of great work at cheap prices.
Consumers should be wary of anyone showing up at your door offering services. If anyone comes to your door offering to begin work on damage, take their information and tell them that you will follow up if you are interested.
If your property has been damaged as a result of severe weather, follow these Better Business Bureau tips:
- When approached by a contractor, ask for proof of licensing and bonding.
- 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 payment up front.
- 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 at www.bbb.org and deal only with reputable local contractors.
- Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done, and a time frame for completion.
- Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there's a problem. Otherwise, pay by check. Never pay in cash.
- Prices are often high in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Buy only the services that are necessary to make your home safe and habitable. Wait at least a few days to hire other contractors because the rates are likely to drop.
- Check that the contractor's vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name and phone number.
- Be sure that all promises made are put in writing.