Legitimate storm chasers come out while damaging weather is moving through the Tennessee Valley ripping apart homes.
After the storms, though, another type of storm chaser shows up. Scammers target people and their pocketbooks claiming they can help with repairs.
WAAY 31 has this consumer warning on how to avoid those crooks.
If you’re the victim of a damaging storm, you’re already living with a lot of stress. You couldn’t avoid a hail-damaged roof. But, you can avoid a hail of scammers out to take your money and run.
Hail damage can be widespread after a storm. Monday’s severe weather produced a lot of it.
The damage left behind creates opportunity for con artists.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau warns now is the time storm victims should be on guard against fraudulent roofers and other contractors.
Your first red flag: most scammers show up uninvited. If you didn’t ask anyone to come by, send them away.
Before hiring a contractor, get your insurance company to sign off and approve any work.
And take this advice:
Work with only licensed contractors.
Get more than one estimate. Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them on the spot.
Get everything in writing: cost, work expected, time schedules, guarantees, and payment schedules.
Demand references and check them out.
Ask to see the contractor’s driver’s license number. Write it down. Also write down their license plate number.
Never sign a contract with blanks. Faudulent contractors could go in and add undesirable language.
Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion agreement until the work is finished and you’ve checked to make sure it’s up to code.
Never let a contractor interpret your insurance policy.
And never let a contractor talk you into avoiding your insurance company.
WAAY 31 also checked with the Better Business Bureau about how to best handle hail damage to your vehicle.
If it’s under warranty, make sure the repair shop will fix it as the manufacturer recommends.
Make sure your repair shop is certified.
When you get an estimate, ask for a full explanation of what you can expect.
And make sure you walk away with any warranty information -- in writing -- along with your estimate.
Consumer advocates and the insurance industry recommend that you take these steps now to avoid a lot of headaches later.