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In Wake Of Storm, Tips To Avoid Repair Scams

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Storm Damage In Elmhurst

Storm damage on Berteau Avenue in Elmhurst. (Credit: Jennifer Lewitas)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — First, it was the storm, packed with ferocious winds and rain—that left a wide path of destruction.

Now scammers could serve up even more heartache for homeowners desperate for help with repairs and clean-up, CBS 2′s Roseanne Tellez reports.

Fallen trees have led to roof damage. Fences–hit by trees and branches–are down. And there’s the clean-up of the trees themselves, which are everywhere.

The number one tip: It’s probably not a good idea to hire someone who shows up at your door.

The Better Business Bureau has more tips to avoid getting taken by unscrupulous contractors

“After a storm, people are emotional. It’s an emotionally charged situation,” said Steve Bernas of the BBB. “You got to get water out of the basement. You got to get a roof over your head and protect your family. Stop the mold or the water infiltration. So you don’t think properly.”

As eager as you are to get things cleaned up and fixed, Bernas says don’t give the job to the first person who shows up. They’re often scammers called storm chasers.

Among the things to do:

  • Resist high pressure and get several estimates.
  • Don’t give anyone cash up front. In fact, don’t use cash at all if you can avoid it.
  • Don’t leave your home unattended.
  • Get a written contract, specifying what work will be done.
  • Get references

“Put the company’s name to a search engine, like Google, and put the word scam next to it and see what pops up,” said Bernas. “And see whether other people have had any problems with them in terms of a scam.”

Whether you’re hiring a tree trimmer, a contractor or someone to haul off debris, make your decisions carefully if you want to avoid even more stress.

Also, be sure you contact your insurance company before signing any anything. You should go with a contractor who’s licensed and bonded.

Click here for a link to the Better Business Bureau to help you find legitimate workers.

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