Severe weather warning issued for Central Texas, BBB warns of weather-related scams
Better Business Bureau
March 19, 2012, 3:54pm
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AUSTIN, Texas -- A strong storm system is making its way toward Central Texas, expectedly bringing with it severe storms and heavy, flooding rainfall. The National Weather Service predicts damaging winds, hail, torrential downpours and isolated tornadoes are all possible.
To prepare for severe weather, consumers should:
· Have a plan: Decide ahead of time where you’ll go when severe weather hits.
· Create an emergency kit: Emergency kits should include such things as water, food, flashlights, batteries, cash, first aid kit, any medications needed, blankets, pillows and any pet care necessities needed.
· Inspect your home and yard for potential hazards:
o Make sure any outdoor furniture or equipment is put away or tied down.
o Trim all lose or weak tree branches that could easily break in high winds and damage your home.
· Pay close attention to weather news and alerts: Consider purchasing a weather radio to stay up-to-date and current on all weather happenings.
As the storm system passes, consumers will start to evaluate any damage done and begin the clean up process. Better Business Bureau receives hundreds of complaints every year concerning subpar work performed by contractors, and encourages consumers to take the time to properly research contractors to avoid creating a bigger problem.
BBB offers these tips for consumers who find themselves in need of repairs due to the severe weather:
· Contact your insurance company immediately. Call your insurance company before work begins to make sure all necessary procedures are followed according to your policy. Make sure you fully understand your deductibles and what your policy covers before having any work done. If you do not follow your insurance company’s guidelines, you may be stuck with the entire bill.
· Find a trustworthy contractor. Deal only with licensed and insured contractors. You can verify licensing information through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Find a BBB Accredited contractor through BBB Member Pages.
· Get multiple bids. Get bids from at least three companies and ask for referrals. Utilize BBB’s Request a Quote service to get multiple estimates from BBB Accredited Businesses for free.
· Take your time signing a contract. Get a written estimate that includes any oral promises the contractor made. Remember to ask if there is a charge for an estimate before allowing anyone into your home. Ask for explanations for price variations. Get a copy of the final, signed contract before the job begins.
· Avoid paying a large sum upfront. Resist dealing with any contractor who asks you to pay for the entire job upfront. A down payment is acceptable, but it should not be a significant amount of the total cost. Pay only by check or credit card -- and pay the final amount only after the work is completed to your satisfaction. Avoid paying in cash.
· Beware of door-to-door solicitations. Sudden, severe storms can bring fly-by-night contractors to the area. Often these contractors solicit work door-to-door, have no license or contact information and require high upfront fees before beginning any work. BBB recommends researching the company before agreeing to have any work done.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.
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