Beware of Sandy Scammers

Photo (cc) by Alexander Rea

The Better Business Bureau is warning of “storm chasers” that are likely to take advantage of Superstorm Sandy victims. While some of these are legitimate businesses truly trying to help homeowners, others are scam artists aiming to profit from the misfortune of others.

Some common areas for “after-disaster” scams include auto, home, and yard repairs or clean-up, according to the BBB. Below are some tips to avoid scammers as you assess and take care of property damages:

1. Watch out for unsolicited house calls

Beware of door-to-door workers offering services at lower prices and a quicker turnaround than others. The BBB says workers who claim to have left-over materials from a nearby job or can’t identify their permanent place of business should signal a red flag for consumers.

2. Consult your insurance company first

Before shopping around for contractors, consult your homeowners insurance company. Find out what’s covered, and ask for an adjuster to come out to assess your property. Ask your insurance rep for contractor recommendations.

When consulting your insurance company, it’s important that you take notes of everyone you talk to, including names, dates, and what was said. Also be sure not to clean up until all damage has been properly documented with notes, photos, and video footage.

3. Avoid making rash decisions

Natural disaster damage can be devastating, but try your best to avoid making emotional or rash decisions. Remind yourself to stay calm and think twice before making any on-the-spot decisions. If a contractor is pressuring you into a fast commitment, it could be a sign that he might not be trustworthy or professional.

4. Shop around for contractors

Before hiring a contractor for repairs, be sure to do your homework and shop around for several estimates. Visit www.bbb.org for ratings on tens of thousands of contractors and repair professionals.

You can also reach out to your local Division of Consumer Affairs to find out if a contractor has any complaints against them.

5. Get it in writing

“Get everything in writing, scrutinize the fine print, and ask questions,” urges the BBB. Your contract should specify the work being done, as well as the price and time frame that was agreed to. It should also include a breakdown of the labor and material costs.

The bottom line: Never accept a handshake deal, and make sure your contract is as detailed as possible. This will ensure that both consumer and contractor are on the same page through every step of the process.

6. Don’t pay with cash or before the work is completed

You should never pay in full in advance, and it’s never a good idea to pay cash, according to the BBB. If the contractor requests a deposit, a general rule of thumb is paying for no more than one-third of the job ahead of time.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month
How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month

In the gig economy, baby boomers are out-hustling their younger competition. You can cash in, too.

15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today

Times are tough, but these career fields are thriving.

The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

60% of People With This Disease Don’t Know They Have It
60% of People With This Disease Don’t Know They Have It

Millions of people overlook this potentially potent condition that tends to strike women and older adults.

7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying
7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying

Saving money doesn’t always mean drudgery and sacrifice. These tools make it easy — sometimes even fun.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.