Better Business Bureau warns people of post-storm scammers

NOW: Better Business Bureau warns people of post-storm scammers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana says people affected by storms over the past week need to keep an eye out for post-storm scammers.

“When we have natural disasters, these scammers come out of the woodwork and they’re there to rip customers off,” said Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana Chief Operating Officer Rick Walz.

Walz says in “storm chaser scams,” crews typically show up at a person’s home and promise to do cheap repairs fast. They usually ask for an all cash deposit, but after getting the money, the “contractors” don’t show up and do the promised work.

According to Walz, there have been no local reports of post-storm scams in recent days, but in Gary, someone reported a caller who said he/she would be in town giving inspections after the storms.

Walz advises people to research a company, receive multiple quotes, and create a written agreement with a contractor before agreeing to any work.

“What’s happening is people are emotionally wrought at the time they come,” said Walz. “They want to get the job done quick and easy sometimes they’re prone to agree to the first guy that comes. That’s not necessarily the best offer.”

He adds to never pay in advance or in cash. People should also receive receipts for all work and review their insurance policies before paying for work.

“The effects of the scams are two fold,” said Walz. “There’s the financial and then the emotional scam. In a lot of cases, the financial piece of it is multiplied because they’ve already provided money to the scammer that they’ve lost then they have to go out and actually get the qualified contractor that they have to pay again so it’s kind of adding insult to injury.”

Walz says if a person does get scammed, they likely won’t be able to get their money back. He urges victims to report scams to the BBB.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Walz. “If you’ve been victimized by a scam, you’ve already lost money, you’ve had a lot of emotional issues to deal with, there’s very little recourse, so try to prevent the scam from happening to begin with by making sure you check out potentially companies and verify that they are legitimate company.”

For additional scam warning signs, prevention measures, and information on legitimate businesses click here.

To report a scam and see other scams in the area, click here.

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