Breaking News
More () »

Better Business Bureau warns of scams after severe weather

Consumers should be aware of unethical practices after calamities.

AKRON, Ohio — With snow hitting Northeast Ohio last weekend and more on the way, the Better Business Bureau is warming of storm chasers that surface after an area is affected by flooding, storms, and other natural disasters, saying they and the Federal Trade Commission see these common scams after severe weather-related calamities.

Consumers should be aware of imposter scams. Ohio law requires canvassers to carry registration certificates from the Chief of Police in the city where they go door to door, and residents should check their vehicle for a business name, phone number, and license plate for the state in which you live.

Consumers should also be leery of high pressure sales: Beware of a sales tactic that plays on the victim's sense of losing out on a perceived good deal. For example, beware of a salesperson who says the deal is only valid if hired immediately. Good contractors allow time for a customer to make a decision.

The BBB also offers this important consumer protection information: If door-to-door sales are more than $25.00, sellers must give consumers three days to cancel. The seller must provide a written agreement and written cancellation notice. The seller may not begin services until after the three-day cancellation period ends, and if a consumer cancels, the seller must provide a refund within ten days.

The Better Business Bureau warns consumers of FEMA impersonators that charge a fee. The Federal Emergency Management Agency supports citizens and emergency personnel to build, sustain, and improve the nation's capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. If someone wants money to help a consumer qualify for FEMA funds, the BBB warns that its a scam!

Also, beware of charity scams. Consumers should look for fake charities offering help to those impacted by severe weather that look similar to well known charities.  

Additionally, the BBB warns local contractors to beware of storm chasers who offer to pay local construction companies substantial amounts of money to use the business's established name, reputation, and phone. They act as a local business, collect the insurance money,  and then move on. The actual company is left to deal with the customer.

The BBB offers these suggestions for consumers to protect themselves:

  • Contact your insurance company
  • Do not sign insurance checks over to contractors
  • Be aware of places that cannot be seen such as a roof, attic, or crawl space

Consumers can find trustworthy businesses on BBB.org.


Before You Leave, Check This Out