Fraudulent contractors often prey on victims of big storms

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BRUNSWICK -- From flooding to hail and tornadoes, no matter the storm damage, fraudulent contractors are often lurking - referred to as "storm chasers."

They're companies from out of state that set up a temporary office locally.

"Every time that this happens after a few months, we start getting complaints from homeowners who picked the wrong contractor and now they're having problems with the quality of the work and can't find the contractor," said Senior Vice President Sue McConnell with the Greater Cleveland Better Business Bureau.

She says beware, contractors in Ohio do not have to be licensed.

"It could be very difficult to find them after they're gone. They could do what looks like very good work, but 3 to 6 months from now if you're having problems you can't find them," said Sue.

To protect yourself, she suggests carefully researching local contractors using reputable services like BBB.ASAP.org.

It's a free rating system that allows you to pick a service -- such as flooding.

The request is then sent to accredited contractors through an app on their phone, like Liberty Home Contractors, which has an A+ rating from the BBB.

But don't stop there. Get more than one estimate, get it all in writing, and don't pay in full until the job is done to your satisfaction.

"Research, research, research. Make sure you're using, not just the person who showed up at your door, but a company that is here for the long haul," said Sue.

She says an easy way to make sure you're hiring a local company is to look at the license plate on their truck.

Also, don't allow contractors to walk around unsupervised, especially on the roof.

Sue says some have been known to cause damage and charge you to fix it.

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