Better Business Bureau offers storm damage tips

Better Business Bureau offers storm damage tips
Credit: Dirk Howland

The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin wants those affected by flooding to be aware of scams that pop up after severe weather.

Those with downed trees and damage to homes might want to hire a contractor to fix the damage, but the BBB says be careful.

“It’s a sad fact that man-made disasters typically follow natural disasters,” said BBB Serving Wisconsin CEO and President Jim Temmer. “In your haste to do repairs, don’t forget to research companies before you hire them. If you don’t, you could have an even bigger disaster on your hands.”

The BBB said to avoid falling victim to a scam, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Beware of “fly-by-night” contractors: Scammers sometimes come into an area after a storm and go door to door canvassing neighborhoods. The BBB warns they may not be properly licensed or insured, may use substandard materials and may be difficult to find if there’s a problem with the work.
Ask for references, and follow up: If you find a company you like, ask for references. The references can tell you what experience others customers have had with the company. The BBB recommends getting at least three.
Compare bids and watch out for price gouging: Unethical businesses can mark up their products or services by as much as 500%. Compare prices from other companies to be sure you’re getting the best deal.
Don’t compromise on quality: While price comparing is essential, don’t just go with the cheapest option. The BBB said “fly-by-night” contractors can offer cheap prices but they won’t offer the best quality. Legitimate contractors can provide proof they have insurance covering liability and workers compenstaion coverage.
Get information and promises in writing: Get every agreement and promise in writing. Also, reputable companies will never demand an entire fee up front. A general rule is to pay one-third up front, one-third when the work is half done and the rest when it’s finished. The BBB also recommends paying with a credit card, not cash.
Check with your insurance company: You should also take pictures and document any repair needs.

The BBB also offers reports on businesses. Its website will tell you information about the company, including the owner’s name, how long it’s been in business, its rating and if there are any complaints. Consumers can also call toll-free at 800-273-1002.

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