Natural disasters often bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also brings out those who take advantage of people who have already been victimized. In case of possible flooding or storm damage due to the current weather predictions, the BBB is warning consumers about the most common “after-disaster” scams involving home repairs, clean-up efforts, as well as charitable donations requests.
BBB offers tips for wise giving during a disaster:
• Beware of charities that spring up overnight. Investigate before you donate. Check out a charity at www.bbb.org/charity
• Do not be pressured into making a donation right away. Legitimate charities will take your donation today, tomorrow, or next month.
• Don’t provide personal or financial information, like your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or credit card information to just anyone who solicits a donation. Make sure they are reputable first.
• Don’t give cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.
The BBB offers tips for home repairs after a disaster:
1. Check with your insurance company about your coverage and their specific filing requirements.
2. Although anxious to get things back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don’t be pressured into signing a long-term contract. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
3. For major repairs, shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, and check references.
4. Be wary of door-to-door workers. Check with your city or parish to find out about door to door rules and company licensing.
5. If possible, get more than one bid – bids should be in writing and should detail the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for labor and materials.
6. Review any written agreement carefully before signing and keep a copy.
7. Never pay in cash and never pay a substantial amount of the bid up-front.
8. Never pay in full until all supplies & subcontractors are paid eliminating a possible lien on your property.
For additional information or to check a company’s record, call the Better Business Bureau at 225-346-5222 or go to www.bbb.org