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BBB Advises Consumers to be Aware of Weather-Related Scams

Spring is generally the time more severe weather is seen. The Better Business Bureau receives hundreds of complaints each year concerning sub-par work performed by contractors. BBB advises people to take the time to properly research contractors for any needed repairs.

What you can do to prepare for severe weather:

  • Plan ahead: If your trees need trimming or your roof needs repair, don’t wait for a big storm to blow through. Get it done now to avoid problems later.
  • Insurance: Be sure to understand your home and car insurance policies and deductibles. Have a plan to pay your deductibles should you need to file a claim. Also, be sure you have access to your policies online.
  • Create an emergency kit: Decide ahead of time where you’ll go when severe weather hits. Emergency kits should include items such as water, food, flashlights, batteries, cash, first aid kit, any medications needed, blankets, pillows and any pet care necessities.
  • Pay close attention to weather news and alerts: Consider purchasing a weather radio to stay up-to-date on all weather events.

As the storm system passes, people will evaluate damage and begin the clean-up process. Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas offers these tips for people who find themselves in need of repairs due to the severe weather:

  • Contact your insurance company immediately. Call your insurance company before work begins to make sure all necessary procedures are followed according to your policy. Make sure you fully understand your deductibles and what your policy covers before having any work done. If you do not follow your insurance company’s guidelines, you may be stuck with the entire bill.
  • Find a trustworthy contractor. Deal only with licensed and insured contractors. You can verify licensing information through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Go to bbb.org to find a BBB Accredited business and to get multiple bids. Retain a copy of the final, signed contract before the job begins.
  • Take your time signing a contract. Get a written estimate that includes any verbal promises and get multiple bids.
  • Avoid paying a large sum upfront. Resist dealing with any contractor who asks you to pay for the entire job upfront. A down payment is acceptable, but it should not be a significant amount of the total cost. Pay only by check or credit card – and pay the final amount only after the work is completed to your satisfaction. Avoid paying in cash.
  • Beware of door-to-door solicitations. Sudden, severe storms can bring fly-by-night contractors to the area. Often these contractors solicit work door-to-door, have no license or contact information and require high upfront fees before beginning any work. BBB recommends researching the company before agreeing to have any work done.
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