Friday evening’s storm caused millions of dollars in damage to communities and individuals across eastern Nebraska. Damage assessments are underway and the cleanup process will continue for months for some. Margo Riekes with the Better Business Bureau says residents need to be aware of “travelers” or scam artists, typically in the form of contractors.
These traveling storm repair firms often operate out of extended stay hotels or may establish virtual offices to create the illusion of being local. They may use high pressure sales tactics, require full payment upfront or tell you to get the necessary permits. Not all travelers are scammers but they may lack the proper licensing for work in Nebraska, offer quick fixes or make big promises they can’t deliver.
Riekes says travelers often go door-to-door to drum up business and there are several red flags to look for. She says, “Look for their license plate. If it is an out-of-state plate, that is a red flag right there. If they don’t have a license plate, that is another red flag. Sometimes they come with really good deals and they are very convincing and they hit the most vulnerable.” Those typically are the elderly or those wanting a job done quickly so they can get their lives back to normal.
Other tips for protection from traveling repair firms include:
Don’t be pressured. Some travelers want a decision immediately but don’t fall for it. Interview several companies before making a decision.
Check references from past customers. Make sure the companies are local to your area and check with the BBB to make sure they are a reputable contractor. Nebraskans can call 1-800-649-6814 or check a business online at bbbinc.org.
Make sure the contractor is legal and they are licensed and registered to do work in your area.
Get the deal in writing and in the form of a contract with the price, materials and timeline listed. The more details the better.
Understand their warranty procedure even if the company is local. Be sure to verify this with the company hand have an agreement included in your contract.
The BBB has a booklet called “ReBUILD with TRUST” and it provides information on how to hire contractors, how to manage insurance claims and disputes and how to check on charitable organizations before making a donation.