With severe weather and heavy flooding hitting the area, a consumer-protection group is reminding Chicago-area residents to use caution when hiring contractors.
The Better Business Bureau put out a reminder to consumers on Wednesday that they need to be wary of “storm chaser contractors” that will use questionable business practices to solicit business in the immediate aftermath of severe weather.
“Scam artists are trying to make money off people’s misfortunes,” Chicago and Northern Illinois BBB CEO Steve Bernas said. “If anyone comes to your door offering to begin work on damage, take their information and tell them that you will follow up if you are interested in using them for repairs.”
The Bureau has provided consumers with a list of methods to keep an eye out for, and several tips to protect themselves from shady practices:
-Do not hire people who show up at your door offering services such as tree or debris removal, roof or water damage repair, etc.
-When approached by a contractor, ask for proof of licensing and bonding.
-Always get a written contract that specifies the price and services provided, guarantee, and a time frame for repair.
-Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full payment up front.
“Everybody wants to get their property fixed and back to normal as quickly as possible,” Bernas said. “But emotions can overrule good judgment during stressful times and ideally consumers will make careful decisions and find the best crews to do good work at a fair price.”
The Bureau also recommends that consumers pay for repairs by credit card or check, never cash, and that residents only pay for services necessary to make a home habitable after a storm, while waiting for prices to come down on more cosmetic needs and services.