Better Business Bureau warns consumers to beware of ‘storm chasers’ offering quick repair work

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Unfortunately, North Alabama is no stranger to storm damage and the cleanup that follows.

As storms leave buildings and homes torn apart, people are left scrambling and anxious to get back to normal.

And that can leave people vulnerable to the scammers who also appear in a storm's aftermath.

The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama has some advice on how to avoid being scammed by the contractors and others who flock to storm-damaged areas hoping to turn a fastback, often with little more than a promise.

Lots of good people show up to help when cleanup work is needed, but that’s not all, according to Elizabeth Garcia, president of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama.

“Then you’ll also see what is called typically as ‘Storm Chasers.’ And those people that come in and offer to fix your roof or repair your home,” she said. "But, you gave them money upfront, if you have to pay money to them, and either the work ends up being subpar, or they never get the work done and they’re long gone."

The ‘storm chasers’ are generally from other places, so Garcia has a simple suggestion.

“The more you stay local, the better chance you’ll have of finding someone that will give you a good service and do what needs to be done for a reasonable price,” she said.

Even with local crews, make sure they’re licensed, insured, and bonded. Equally important regarding your money, take your time spending it.

“We usually advise consumers to follow the rule of three: a third down – so that purchases of products or building materials can be done, a third in the middle, and then the final third at the end, after you’ve had a chance to inspect the work done."

Garcia says the Better Business Bureau is happy to help consumers find reliable contractors for times like these.

The Better Business Bureau also says to make sure you check for references. The contractor should be able to supply that easily, if not, keep looking.