Storm victims warned to watch out for fly by night contractors - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Storm victims warned to watch out for fly by night contractors

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The rebuilding is already underway for families hit hard by Wednesday's tornadoes. And fly by night contractors have the potential to make their problems even worse. WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Eric Flack is working for you with two new warnings about what can happen.

The warnings were put out Thursday in the wake of the tornadoes. One from the Kentucky Attorney General's office and one from the Louisville Better Business Bureau.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the many families here in Kentucky and across the Midwest who have been affected by the severe weather," Attorney General Jack Conway said. "As storm victims begin to clean-up and rebuild, I want to ensure that they aren't victimized a second time by scam artists and so-called storm-chasers who try to profit during times of disaster."

Conway and the BBB are telling storm victims to watch out for shady contractors that try and take advantage of the widespread storm damage. Many of these scams involve taking money to do repairs and skipping town, or doing a poor job and then never coming back to finish the work.

"We've named a lot of business lately that have "f" ratings because they don't deal with consumer complaints. They won't answer them," said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, spokeswoman of the Louisville Better Business Bureau. "They'll take your money and run. A lot of businesses are having a hard time because of the economy, so therefore some of them are robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Consumers who need storm repair or clean up services are encouraged to follow these tips:

  • Never pay in advance for labor. Scam artists often take advance payments from consumers and never return to complete the work.

  • If an advance payment is needed to purchase materials, offer to purchase the materials yourself.
  • Use local, reputable contractors for repairs, if possible. If local contractors bring in out-of-town workers, ask who will be responsible for their work if it is not satisfactory.
  • Be suspicious of unfamiliar, out-of-state vehicles and those who offer repair work at unreasonably low prices. Contact local law enforcement about your suspicions.
  • Ask if the contractor is licensed, bonded (if required by the city or county), and insured.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to learn more about unknown companies or call the Kentucky Attorney General's consumer protection division at 1-888-432-9257 to find out more about a business.
  • Demand a written contract. If possible, get estimates from several contractors.

The Attorney General's office said common natural disaster scams include outright fraud, shoddy construction, charity scams, impersonating officials and loan scams. Attorney General Conway is urging consumers to report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work to his consumer protection hotline at 1-888-432-9257.

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