published Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Warning sounds on scammers

Tree scams aren’t the only potential fraud headache for windblown residents.

Local, state and federal officials caution residents to check out anyone contacting them and claiming to be cleanup or rebuilding contractors.

“This kind of thing occurs with every storm,” said Christopher Garrett, spokesman with the consumer affairs division of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

“The main thing we want people to know is that they don’t have to rush into anything. Sometimes these guys will pressure homeowners, saying, ‘You better catch me while you can before I go to work for your neighbors,’” Garrett said.

Garrett said Tennessee has an online database where residents may check to see if contractors are licensed, and state officials recommend using only licensed contractors.

Don Allen, director of the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency, said residents should ask for identification from government or insurance inspectors, and ask prospective contractors to show their business license.

“A check [of that license name and number] with the Better Business Bureau would be good,” Allen said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has inspectors in the area who will be calling on residents who have registered.

The inspectors will wear official FEMA identification, and will only confirm personal detailed information that has been provided during that registration process. They will usually not approach an applicant without prior contact, according to a FEMA news release.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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