BBB: Watch out for scammers after severe weather

The Better Business Bureau is warning local residents to watch out for scammers who want to take advantage of residents’ damage from severe storms Wednesday night.

Hailstorms hammered several Texas communities this week, causing extensive damage and leaving much to clean up in the aftermath. Hail can severely damage residential and commercial roofs, along with windshields, side view mirrors, and bodies of vehicles. Some regions reported tennis ball-sized hail in the latest storm, significantly increasing the possibility of extensive damage.

After severe weather, it is important to be diligent and watch for scammers, often referred to as storm chasers, looking to take advantage of areas recently impacted by severe weather, according to the BBB news release. Although not all storm chasers are scammers, they may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes, or make big promises they can’t deliver. Often found soliciting services door to door, they make offers but disappear after accepting payment. Avoid hiring any contractor who uses high-pressure sales tactics, such as “today only” offers, or demands full payment upfront, the BBB says.

On the heels of this latest hailstorm and in preparation for future storms this spring season, BBB offers the following advice:

  • Find out if you’re covered. Your insurance policy may cover hail damage. Call your insurance company immediately to report the damage and discuss how to proceed with repairs. Make sure you understand how your insurance company will reimburse your repair costs. Take photos or video of the damage.
  • Do your research. After an insurance adjuster has surveyed your hail damage, you will need to find a reputable company to make repairs. Check BBB.org to find a trustworthy business, such as roofing contractors or auto body shops.
  • Get several bids. Don’t pay large fees upfront or pay in cash. BBB recommends consumers solicit bids from at least three different companies. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided.
  • Ask for a timeline. Find out how long the repair will take. If the damage was heavy in your area, it may take longer to schedule the repairs. Make sure to ask whether the company offers rental vehicles or has a plan to obtain a rental vehicle for the duration of the repair.
  • Get everything in writing. Be sure all work is explained in the contract, including cleanup, waste disposal, start, and completion dates. Any verbal agreements made should be included in the contract.

BBB recommends businesses develop and implement contingency plans that go beyond response and recovery. These plans should be designed to help support your business through a lengthy period of recovery and reduced operations, according to the BBB. Aspects that business owners should consider are: securing a temporary location, managing employee availability due to possible damages, and working with the appropriate agencies to rebuild and/or repair.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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