Better Business Bureau warns Northwest Georgia residents about storm scams

Better Business Bureau warns Northwest Georgia residents about storm scams

February 1st, 2013 by Staff Report in Business Around the Region

The Better Business Bureau is warning local residents affected by Wednesday's storms in Northwest Georgia to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors soliciting business.

"It is not uncommon for out-of-town storm chasers to solicit business after storms like the ones we had Wednesday," said Jim Winsett, president of the local Better Business Bureau. "Storm chasers may not have proper licenses and certifications for your area and may offer quick fixes or make big promises to which they won't deliver."

BBB offers the following tips for storm victims:

• Know your rights and responsibilities. Immediately contact your homeowner insurance company and clearly understand what the policy covers and the deductible.

• Look up information and contact your state's Department of Consumer Affairs: in Georgia, http://consumer.georgia.gov/, and for Tennessee, http://tn.gov/consumer/index.shtml.

• Contractors must be registered with the Secretary of State in Georgia, call 478- 207-2440 for the Professional Licensing Boards Division or the Department of Commerce & Insurance in Tennessee, call 615-741-2241. You can also go online to http://www.sos.ga.gov/ or http://www.tn.gov/commerce/ and check if a contractor is registered.

• Many counties require a solicitation permit if sales people go door-to-door. Verify if they are required to have a permit by contacting your local city and county office. BBB suggests consumers be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not re-active to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches.

• Try to get at least two or three quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.

• Never pay in advance for repairs, and do not pay cash. While many companies may ask for a deposit, BBB suggests that no more than one-third of the job be paid up front.

• Check that the contractor's vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name, phone number and your state's license plates.