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April Showers Also Bring Scam Artists

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Patricia Fisher's home in Stickney, Ill. (Credit: CBS)

Patricia Fisher’s home in Stickney, Ill. (Credit: CBS)

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STICKNEY, Ill. (CBS) – Believe it or not, there are some people who look forward to the damaging thunderstorms like the ones that might hit the Chicago area Friday night.

As, CBS 2′s Mai Martinez reports, that’s because storms can be a fast and easy way to rack up thousands of dollars from unnecessary repairs if homeowners aren’t careful.

Pat Fisher has owned her home for almost 40 years, so when a contractor inspecting her neighbor’s roof approached her “He said to me to me that I had storm damage he could see from his roof.”

Fisher said she wanted to do what was best for her home and, before she knew it, she’d signed a contract.

“He went on my roof and he said ‘Oh yeah, you’ve got storm damage and your roof is going to be approved,’” she said.

But Fisher became concerned as she looked over the contract.

“Roof has hail and wind damage. The garage has hail and wind damage,” she said, reading from the contract. “I wanted to know what figures were in there. There were no figures on this agreement.”

Her concerns grew when she got an automated call saying the roofing materials would be delivered.

The call told her “if you accept this message please press one, if you want it repeated, press two.”

With no other options offered, Fisher hung up and went to see her insurance agent.

Kevin Collins knew exactly what was going on: a growing trend of contractors either creating or inflating damage in order to cash in after a storm.

“They’re kind of racking up a little of their own profits at the expense of the homeowner,” Collins said.

In the past week, Collins has received three unauthorized claims for storm damage repairs. “It’s occurring more and more,” he said.

Fisher said she believes the contractor took advantage of her and she hopes others will learn from her mistake.

“Be very leery, because they do lie, unfortunately,” Fisher said.

Collins said the best advice for homeowners is not to sign any contracts or move forward with any repairs until they’ve spoken directly to their insurance agent. In Fisher’s case, the village and her insurance company stepped in to stop the roofing work.

If they hadn’t, Fisher would have had to pay $3,400 out of pocket.

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