Homeowners warned to watch out for scam artists during storm clean-up

Shed damage in Cameron Meadows, Plainfield. Photo: Darcie Mair
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Severe weather brings out not only straight line winds and tornadoes. It also brings out scam artists looking to take advantage of homeowners who need help.

Following storms like the one that damaged homes in Hendricks and Marion counties Tuesday afternoon, 13 Investigates receives many complaints from homeowners who were victims to dishonest contractors looking to make a quick buck.

If your home suffered storm damage, the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana recommends finding a reputable contractor by getting recommendations from friends and family. BBB says some contractors falsely create or take a local identity in order to appear to be a local business. Immediately following a storm, contractors might come to your door offering repair services, and some may offer extremely low prices and quick repairs. That, according to the BBB, can be a red flag and a sign of a potential scam.

To help ensure you receive quality services and that a contractor follows through on repairs that you paid for, BBB suggests the following tips:

Don't hire people who just show up at your door offering services such as tree or debris removal and roof repair.

Resist high-pressure sales tactics, such as the "good deal" you’ll get only if you hire that contractor on the spot.

When approached by a contractor, ask for proof of licensing and bonding.

Check that the contractor's vehicle has signs or marketing on it with the business name and phone number.

Get several quotes, and insist payments be made to the company, not an individual.

Deal with reputable contractors, and check out BBB's Accredited Businesses here.

BBB encourages paying no more than one-third of the repair cost upfront.

Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done and a time frame for completion.

Prices are often high in the immediate aftermath of a storm. Be careful of price gouging.

Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there's a problem.