Eye on Scams: Protect yourself from opportunistic ‘storm chasers’

Eye on Scams

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- The aftermath of Hurricane Delta can also bring out con-artists taking advantage of those who have already been victimized. Experts are warning of these out-of-town contractors.
Natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, and flooding often bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. The Better Business Bureau is warning homeowners affected by natural disasters to beware of “storm chasers” and out-of-town contractors soliciting business.
“Anytime the devastation comes with the storms, out-of-town contractors that don’t have the licensing and certifications start doing the work because there’s a whole lot of opportunity and consumers in need,” Chris Babin, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, said.

According to experts, 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.

“What happens is unethical companies also take advantage of that, and they may start calling consumers who possibly have damage or just going house to house saying we want to check it out, see if you have damage, and the thing to be on the lookout for is those unethical contractors,” explained Babin. “There is not maybe any damage, but they’re going to tell you there is so they can do some work for you.”
If you ask questions about where the contractor’s business is located or how their services work, they answer vaguely in person or over the phone, they’ll simply hang up, Darren Domingue with Lafayette Roofing and General Contractors, said.
“They’ll have a 337 number. They’ll have an office or location, could be their house, but their crews aren’t local so they’re using fly-by-night roofers that aren’t going to be here to serve as a warranty,” Domingue explained.

The Better Business Bureau has these tips for victims of natural disasters:

  • Contact your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverage and specific filing requirements.
  • Do your research for registered and licensed contractors.
  • Resist high-pressure sales.
  • Be especially careful of door-to-door contractors. Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if sales people go door-to-door.

If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at smasters@klfy.com.

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