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BBB Warns Residents About Storm Chasers

Now that your basement is somewhat dry, you may have to make some repairs, and the Better Business Bureau wants to make sure you don't get scammed.

"After every major storm event we get complaints about both bad business practices and actual scams," says CEO Deborah Brady. "It's very prevalent; that's why we've given it this nickname 'storm chasers'."

Not all storm chasers are scammers, says the BBB, but they may lack the proper licensing to do work in Windsor-Essex, offer quick fixes or make big promises they can't deliver.

"The more media attention that a storm gets the more likely there will be people coming from outside the community to seek opportunities."

That's why Brady says it's important to do your homework before you agree to hire any contractor. She says a quick way to find out if the contractor is legitimate, is to go to their website and look them up.

"In southwestern Ontario we have tens of thousands of business listings, about 2,000 of those businesses are actually accredited which means they've been vetted and they are required to uphold a higher level of standard," she says. "We also have business records of other businesses that are not accredited for whatever reason, and you can see what kind of history they have."

Brady also recommends getting at least three estimates in writing if possible. Call several contractors to find out what the work would have cost before the storm, so you know if the quote you're getting is fair.

Check warranties. Find out what kind of warranty is offered for the work and see if the company has a service department. If they don't, honouring warranties can be troublesome.

Make sure the contractor has the proper equipment for the job and is qualified to use it. If a contractor can't provide their qualifications, walk away.

Check with your municipality to see if inspections, permits or licensing is required before the work is done.

Ask the contractor if they have liability insurance. Contractors are not required by law to carry it, but it could mean you will be liable for damage to your property or your neighbour's.

And, beware of upfront fees. Another red flag to watch for is if the contractor demands payment upfront.

Brady also says if you come across a scam, don't be quiet about it. She says the BBB also offers a service called "Scam Tracker".

"You can report a scam. Hopefully, you're taken, and we can see exactly what consumers are experiencing."

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