BBB Warns Do Not Be A Second Strike Victim After The Storm

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After the storm, victims face another threat-scammers. BBB at Fort Worth offers tips to hiring trusted businesses.

After Storm Tips

Yesterday’s storms wreaked havoc on North Texas. Left in their wake is damage to homes, vehicles and financial burdens. While your instinct is to take the shortest path back to normalcy, you should use caution to avoid a second disaster at the hands of scam artists. The Better Business Bureau® offers the following advice for consumers:

First, use the free resources of BBB® to check out businesses and charities online (http://www.bbb.org/fort-worth) or by phone (800)-621-8566. We are here to serve and will happily help you get all the information you need before contracting or donating.

Second, for specific areas, please employ the following tips:

Home

  • Check with your insurance company first to determine coverage and specific filing requirements; keep a contact information handy
  • Be leery of door-to-door workers or telephone solicitation whether offering home repairs, inspections, heating and cooling services or speedy insurance processing
  • Shop around for contractors. You may need to make temporary repairs, but major permanent repairs should be the result of multiple bids and through research
  • Require written bids that clearly identify the materials with associated costs and all labor charges as well as the timing of the beginning and expected completion of work
  • Be sure that the bids are comparable
  • Do not pay in advance for the work nor in cash
  • Get references from past customers
  • Check out their history with the BBB® and trade association
  • Require copies of all licenses, permits and liability insurance prior to any work commencing
  • When work is complete, be sure to get a notarized statement that all sub-contractors have been paid in full to avoid a contractors lien on your property
  • Allow heating/cooling to be clean out and dried before determining what, if any repairs are needed.

Vehicles

  • Similar to home repairs, shop around for a quality vehicle repair service
  • Require written bids that clearly identify the materials with associated costs and all labor charges as well as the timing of the beginning and expected completion of work
  • Do not pay in advance for the work nor in cash
  • Get references from past customers
  • Check out their history with the BBB® and trade association
  • If you are shopping for a used vehicle, look for the signs of flood or hail damage.
  • Rust, mud, watermarks, discolored upholstery, mismatching carpet or a musty odor.
  • Request a vehicle report based on the VIN to check for past reported damage

Financial Issues – Personal Needs and Charity Scams
You may find yourself burdened financially by severe damage to your home or out of work from damage to your workplace.

  • Check to make sure you have all of your credit cards; if not, call the company immediately to suspend the card
  • If you find yourself temporarily out of work, call your creditors to arrange payment terms; be certain to know what you can afford to pay prior to making this call to avoid making commits that you are unable to meet
  • Know the terms of your credit cards and what fees and interest rates accrue for credit purchases and cash advances so that you are able to use these tools without incurring high back end fees

People will prey on the good nature of those willing to help a neighbor in need.

  • Check with the BBB® to find out about the charity
  • Be cautious of strangers collecting funds door-to-door, in front of businesses or houses of worship that are not affiliated with an organization

Finally, if you find yourself a victim of poor workmanship or a scam artist, contact BBB® to try to recover your investment and to alert others about the individual or company involved.

About BBB® of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Inc.
The Better Business Bureau® of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Inc. is a not-for-profit agency serving Tarrant, Johnson, Hood, Wise, Erath, Palo Pinto, Somervell, and Parker counties. Fort Worth BBB® provides education and information on business and business standards; and serves consumers by helping resolve consumer complaints regarding businesses. For more information, call (800) 621-8566 or visit bbb.org/fort-worth.

About the BBB®
For 100 years, Better Business Bureau® has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2011, consumers turned to BBB® more than 100 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at http://www.bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 115 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation. For more information, visit http://www.bbb.org.

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Lindsey Hasse

Larry Taylor
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