Maintain an eye fixed out for residence restore fraud

Photo courtesy Will Blackburn / Blackburn Ops LLC

The Better Business Bureau and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr warn residents affected by recent storms to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors asking for business.

The recent damage the tornado wreaked in Newnan may bring the best in people as strangers scramble to help others in need.

Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also creates contractors who take advantage of those who have already been victims.

The Better Business Bureau and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr warn residents affected by recent storms to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors asking for business.

“It’s not uncommon for storm chasers to do business out of town after storms like the one we had last week,” said Brian Catania, CEO of the Better Business Bureau, in a press release. “Storm Chasers may not be properly licensed for your region and may offer quick fixes or make big promises that they will not deliver.”

The storms and tornadoes that have swept through Georgia have left a number of residents able to repair and rebuild damaged homes.

“While the damage is still being assessed, you should know that we will not tolerate scammers trying to take advantage of storm victims,” ​​Carr said in a press release. “We urge consumers whose homes have been damaged by the storms to carefully screen contractors before hiring them.”

BBB and Carr offer the following tips for storm victims:

  • Know your rights and obligations such as emergency price controls and price reductions.
  • Contractors must be registered with the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The BBB suggests that consumers be proactive in choosing a contractor and not respond to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door. Instead, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.
  • While most roofers will obey the law, be sure to get someone you don’t know to inspect your roof. An unethical contractor can actually do harm to get work.
  • Try to get at least three to four offers from contractors and insist that payments are made to the company, not an individual.
  • Don’t prepay for the job. Be wary of contractors who ask for full or half upfront payment.
  • Resist high pressure sales tactics like the “good deal” that you only get if you hire the contractor on site.
  • Receive a written contract detailing the price, the work to be performed, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor and a time frame. Request a copy of the current insurance certificate.
  • Pay by credit card if possible; You may have additional protection if there is a problem.
  • Check for any signs or markings on the contractor’s vehicle showing your state’s company name, phone number, and license plates.
  • Ensure tree removal has a valid arborist license by visiting the International Society of Arboriculture website at www.isa-arbor.com.
  • Ensure general contractors, electricians, plumbers, and heating and air conditioning companies are licensed by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at sos.georgia.gov. Note that certain specialized occupations such as roofers, tree removal services, painters, drywall contractors, and repair craftsmen do not require state licensing.

Out-of-state contractors will be opening a store in the area to record the construction work caused by the storm. The BBB warns contractors in the area to beware of storm chasers willing to pay substantial sums of money to local construction companies to use a local company’s established name, reputation and phone so they can disguise themselves as a local business .

The press release said the BBB has seen this happen in other regions of the country. After repairs by insurance companies, the non-governmental contractors left the area. Many contractors who have agreed to let these storm chasers use their names regret their decision after holding the bag of dissatisfied customers due to poor workmanship and / or unfulfilled warranties.

Disaster victims should never feel compelled to make a hasty decision or choose an unknown contractor. For reliable information, lists of BBB Accredited Companies by Industry, and BBB Business Reviews to Trust for Local Businesses, visit bbb.org or call 404-766-0875.

If you believe you may have been a victim of home repair fraud, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Department by visiting consumer.ga.gov or calling 404-651-8600 or 1-800-869 Call -1123 (toll free Georgia, outside the Atlanta subway area).