Three Important Tips to Help Homeowners Avoid Being Scammed After a Storm Damage Disaster
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Crowley & South Johnson County explains how to identify and avoid scams after storm damage has struck a home or business.
SERVPRO of Crowley & South Johnson County realizes the worry and frustration homeowners experience after a thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane, or flash flood causes storm damage to their homes. The helplessness a homeowner feels as a stream of water pours into the structure through a hole in the roof can be overwhelming. In desperation, some homeowners will turn to the first person who knocks on the door offering to help out. A large-scale weather disaster can bring out the best in people, but a disaster can also bring out some of the worst con artists and scammers. The team of dedicated and caring professionals at SERVPRO of Crowley & South Johnson County explains how homeowners can identify and avoid scams when a storm damage disaster strikes.
How to Identify and Avoid Scams After a Storm Damage Disaster
After severe weather damages homes in a community, general contracting companies who are aware of the large-scale needs will descend on the community seeking to meet the short-term emergency repairs that homeowners legitimately need. Here are three quick tips to help homeowners avoid scammers and select a reputable, credible, and reliable storm damage restoration company.
Tip #1: Validate the company’s professional credentials and reputation.
In this stressful situation, homeowners must be careful to secure the services of a reputable, credible, and reliable company. A reputable company has a track record of satisfied customers and positive reviews, which can be found on the company’s social media accounts. A positive rating with the BBB is another strong indicator of past performance.
A trustworthy company will have proof of credibility. Professional certifications validate training and expertise, and a credible company will be licensed, insured, and bonded. Companies that are reliable generally have achieved longevity. Companies that are family-owned, family-operated, and have been in business for many years have demonstrated reliability year after year.
Just because a company travels to a different city or town to help residents rebuild does not necessarily indicate the contractor, home services company, or property damage restoration company is bogus or seeking to scam desperate homeowners. When a large-scale disaster occurs, many companies will rally to meet the massive need. A few simple questions can separate solid, trustworthy service providers from scammers.
These questions include:
- Where is the company’s base of operations? Beware of “storm chasers” who will not produce information about their base of operations and their company history.
- Does the company have references and reviews to validate a good reputation?
- Is the company licensed, insured, and bonded?
- Does the company have the professional certifications a credible company would have?
- How long has the company been in business?
- Does the company have equipment and technology to cover the full scope of work, including emergency tarping, water removal, applied structural drying, pack out and storage services, cleaning and restoration, mold remediation, and rebuild services?
- Is the company a franchise?
This last question is crucial on several fronts. Usually, a local company that is a part of a national franchise must meet very high qualifications and standards. Adherence to these standards must be demonstrated on a regular basis. Customer complaints are taken seriously and are addressed in a timely, satisfactory manner. In a major disaster involving hundreds or thousands of structures, SERVPRO locations may respond from far and wide. The stringent requirements set by SERVPRO for every single franchise location anywhere in America guarantee a uniform standard of excellence and performance across the board.
Tip #2: Document everything.
Keep an accurate paper trail of all expenses. These expenses include not only materials and repair services but also any food, lodging, travel, medical expenses, and pet care associated with the storm damage disaster.
Avoid paying in cash for storm-related expenses. Payments by credit card or check will automatically create permanent, digital documentation essential to a successful claims process. This documentation will prove to be useful should a dispute arise. A huge red flag is requesting or demanding full payment or a large partial payment upfront prior to any provision of services or completion of project milestones.
Tip #3: Avoid hasty decisions.
The salesman or company representative who knocks at the door offering significant savings for a quick decision is often a scammer, especially if the company is not local or a well-established, reputable franchise. A well-established company patiently invests the time to educate its consumers on the restoration process. Professionals will provide an inspection, assessment, and complete estimate with photo and video documentation. Impulse decisions may lead to costly future repairs of shoddy work in the long run.
As a locally owned and operated business, the SERVPRO of Crowley & South Johnson County team lives and works in this community and is close by and ready to respond immediately when a homeowner or business needs storm damage restoration or cleaning services.