BBB Tip: Protect Yourself from “Storm Chasers” After a Natural Disaster | Community


As parts of Minnesota clean up from storms overnight, communities come together to help in need. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a crisis, entrepreneurs also take advantage of those who have already been victimized. Better Business Bureau is warning homeowners affected by natural disasters to be wary of “storm chasers” and out-of-town entrepreneurs soliciting business. While not all storm chasers are crooks, they may not have the right license for your area, offer quick fixes, or make big promises they can’t keep.

There are some things you need to do when hiring a contractor (like getting three quotes, getting everything in writing, and paying with a credit card). Click here for BBB advice on hiring a contractor.

For victims evacuated to a shelter, know what to expect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BBB also offers these specific tips for victims of natural disasters:

• Contact your insurance company – Learn about your policy coverage and specific deposit requirements. Keep all receipts, including those for food, temporary accommodation, or other expenses that may be covered by your policy. Your insurance company may also have recommended contractors.

• Do your research – Find trusted businesses on BBB.org. Check the government agency in your state or province responsible for registering and / or licensing contractors. Get referrals from friends and relatives.

• Resist High Pressure Sales – Some storm chasers use tactics like the “bargain” that you will only get if you hire the contractor on site. Be proactive in selecting a contractor and don’t react to phone sales calls or door-to-door presentations. Victims of disasters should never feel pressured into making a hasty decision or choosing an unfamiliar entrepreneur.

• Pay particular attention to door-to-door contractors – Many municipalities require a solicitation permit if vendors are door-to-door. Ask for an identity document. Check their vehicle for a business name, phone number and license plates for your state or province.

• Do not issue insurance checks to contractors – Obtain an invoice from the contractor and pay it directly (preferably with a credit card, which offers additional protection against fraud compared to other payment methods). Do not sign any documents that give the contractor rights to your insurance claims. If you have any questions, contact your insurance company or agent.

• Beware of places you can’t see – Although most contractors follow the law, be careful allowing someone you don’t know to inspect your roof and other areas of your home. An unethical entrepreneur can actually create damage to get work. The same goes for attics, crawl spaces, ducts and other places that you cannot easily access or see on your own.

BBB is also warning contractors to beware of storm chasers who offer to pay substantial sums to local construction companies to use the company’s established name, reputation and phone. They pose as a local business, collect the insurance money and then move on, leaving the real business to deal with unhappy customers due to poor execution, unfinished work, or unfulfilled warranties. .

Here are some additional resources:

• Tips to help you find a trustworthy tree service company you can trust.

• Find a contractor near you and read BBB’s tips on hiring a contractor.

• Report scams to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

• Visit BBB.org to search for company profiles, file a complaint or write a customer review.

• Learn more about BBB accreditation standards and BBB standards for trust. Find out how to become a BBB accredited business.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.